Matt Greene scored shorthanded late in the second period for the lead and Jonathan Quick was strong in net throughout as the Los Angeles Kings beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in the opener of a Western Conference semifinal series on Saturday night.
Slava Voynov scored for his first point of the postseason and Dustin Penner added an empty-netter for the Kings, who were 3-0 on the road while taking down the President’s Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games in the first round. Los Angeles is the eighth seed in the conference but won the season series 3-1.
David Perron opened the scoring on a deflection in the first period for the Blues, the No. 2 seed in the West and the top remaining seed in the conference.
St. Louis also lost the opener of the first round in double-overtime against the Sharks, before recovering to win four straight.
Brian Elliott made 26 saves for the Blues, who had a franchise-record 30 home victories during the regular season. The Blues were handicapped in the third period after being on the penalty kill for six consecutive minutes, the first four a double-minor high sticking on T.J. Oshie followed by a delay of game on Kevin Shattenkirk for flipping the puck over the glass.
Dustin Brown scored two shorthanded goals in the first round against the Canucks and set up the Kings’ third of the playoffs with just over a minute left in the second period. Shattenkirk overskated the puck after David Backes won the draw in the offensive zone, and Brown beat Shattenkirk to the net where Elliott made a tough save but left Greene with an easy tap-in.
Greene scored his first career playoff goal in 36 games, and earned just his third point. He has 11 career goals in seven seasons.
The Blues lost their top defenseman on the play that led to the power play. Alex Pietrangelo was checked from behind into the boards and the team said early in the third period that Pietrangelo, who led all skaters with 16:26 of ice time the first two periods, was being evaluated. He did not return.
Both teams snapped lengthy droughts in the series in the first period.
Perron’s deflection at 9:16 ended Quick’s shutout streak of 1:05:38 against St. Louis, dating to Feb. 3 when the Blues won 1-0 on a goal by Jamie Langenbrunner. The Blues also scored first for the fourth time in six games in the postseason.
Perron made contact halfway up the shaft on a wrist shot by Pietrangelo from the point, and Backes missed on a second shot at altering the course of the puck that beat Quick between the legs.
Quick shut out the Blues twice in the regular season and allowed eight goals on 172 shots in first round.
Voynov tied it at 16:58 as the Kings capitalized on a giveaway by defenseman Barret Jackman, who lost a battle for the puck with Dustin Penner. Elliott couldn’t cover the ground in time after Penner’s cross-ice feed as Voynov, whose eight goals tied for the NHL lead among rookie defensemen, scored his first point of the playoffs.
Elliott and Jaroslav Halak each shut out the Kings in the regular season, and the goal ended a dry spell of 1:47:47 since Willie Mitchell scored Nov. 22 in a 3-2 victory at St. Louis.
Notes: Most of the St. Louis Cardinals attended the game hours after beating the Milwaukee Brewers, with reliever Kyle McClellan showing up clad in a David Backes jersey. Shortstop Rafael Furcal and right fielder Carlos Beltran attended their first hockey game. … The Kings have won six in a row on the road overall dating to last season.