LOS ANGELES — There is no denying that Dustin Penner saves his heroics for the playoffs.
On Friday night, Penner’s second goal of the series with just two-tenths of a second left in the second period was the game-winner and series-clincher in a 2-1 Kings victory.
With time winding down, Penner got a little help from the bench and rocketed a shot past a surprised Brian Elliott.
“I think there was probably 20 guys and three coaches yelling for me to shoot,” Penner said. “I don’t think I’ve ever scored with 0.2 second left or whatever it was. I’ll take it. It was a fortunate break for us. The bench was yelling to shoot (the puck), so I knew I didn’t have much time and just tried to put everything into it.”
“That was huge,” said defenseman Drew Doughty. “It kind of deflated the Blues and at the same time picked us up. We didn’t have a good second period. They were all over us. Quickie made some big saves to keep us in the game. Getting that goal at the end of the period was a dagger to them and they weren’t the same team in the third.”
Quiet during the regular season, Penner seems to have another gear come playoff time.
Penner has cracked the 20-goal mark four times in his career. But for some reason, his knack for finding the back of the net during the regular season with the Kings has been virtually non-existent. In his 117 regular season games in Los Angeles, he has a mere 11 goals.
The goal Friday night gave Penner five goals in 26 playoff games with the Kings — three of the goals are game-winners and two of those game-winners are series-clinchers.
The Kings once again end the Blues postseason hopes and coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t hide his disappointment.
“What I’m going to tell them is that it’s not good enough. If you want to be a champion, it’s not good enough. You can’t allow the goalie to outwork you if you want to be a champion You’re going to have to find a way. I hope our players when they pause and reflect on it are really pissed off and disappointed in the opportunity that we missed here because we didn’t finish.”
The Kings now have a few days to sit back and relax before finding out if they will start the second round just down the 5 Freeway in Anaheim or open up at home against the San Jose Sharks.
In Detroit, the Ducks had some late game heroics, scoring two goals just 51 seconds apart in the final four minutes to tie the game at three only to lose in overtime, 4-3.
Henrik Zetterberg’s second goal of the game and 1:04 into the extra session sends the series back to Honda Center for a Game 7 on Sunday night.
“Those two were kind of ugly ones, but that’s what you need in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said after scoring his first two goals of the series.
“The guys who have been there before all stepped up and said what had to be said,” said Zetterberg, a first-year captain. “We didn’t have to say that much.
“We just had to flush it and go out and play.”
The Ducks found themselves playing catch-up all night. They trailed 1-0 after the first period and down 3-1 late in the third period before mounting a late comeback with goals from Bobby Ryan and Emerson Etem.