It looked like the St. Louis Blues would need only one goal to beat the L.A. Kings on Tuesday. It turned out they needed two.
The Blues took a 1-0 series lead over the L.A. Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarter-final with a 2-1 overtime victory.
Alexander Steen, who scored the first goal of the hockey game in the first period, also scored in overtime – short-handed, no less – on a puck-handling mistake from Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Kings were badly outplayed through most of the first three periods, but Justin Williams tied the score with only 31 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Here are some talking points:
The Kings were slow to answer to the Blues’ physical play. St. Louis was already billed as a bruising opponent, but it was Ryan Reaves and Adam Cracknell who led the way in that aspect, combining for 14 hits on the night. The total of registered hits by the end of the night actually favored the Kings by a count of 41-38.
The Kings had no room to create much of anything offensively. In the third period, the shots were, at one point, 11-1 for St. Louis. But, all it takes in a one-goal is one shot to change everything. Justin Williams can attest.
Jonathan Quick, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff MVP, showed last year’s form. He made 40 saves and was spectacular right up until the OT winner. He made a mistake playing the puck behind the Kings net that immediately led to the Steen winner.
The Blues got some pretty decent goaltending, even if Brian Elliott didn’t face nearly the same onslaught that Quick did. Elliott made 28 saves. He has allowed just one goal in each of his last three regular season starts, and this first playoff start.
Talk about tough: Kings’ defenseman Robyn Regehr took a David Backes skate to the nose early in the third period. He was dripping blood and had to go to the dressing for repairs. He returned just a few minutes later.
Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm
Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?
For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting upJohn Tavares.
The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.
Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.
So far, it shows, too.
The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.
There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:
Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week
Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.