Kings force OT, fall to Blues in Game 1

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jonathan Quick got the Los Angeles Kings to overtime. Then last year’s Stanley Cup MVP gave it away.

Alex Steen stole the puck from the
unsuspecting goalie behind the net and scored a short-handed goal to
give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the defending Cup champions
on Tuesday.

“It’s exactly what it looked like,” Quick said. “I tried to make a play, he blocked it and scored.”

Win, lose or embarrassed, Quick said he moves on.

“If we had won, I put it right away. If
we lost like we did, I put it right away,” Quick said. “It doesn’t make a
difference. We’ll try to win Game 2.”

Steen scored unassisted on a backhander
at 13:26 of overtime less than a minute after Blues defenseman Kevin
Shattenkirk was whistled for a double-minor high sticking when he cut
Dustin Penner.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was wondering
how in the world his team would deny the Kings that long this late in
the game when Quick appeared to dawdle a bit handling the puck and Steen
swooped in, intercepting a clearing effort and quickly sliding it home.

“I had fresh legs and I figured I’d try him,” Steen said. “I just got fortunate behind the net.”

Steen also scored on a power play in
the first period for the Blues, who ended an eight-game losing streak
against the team that swept them in the second round last spring.
Getting to the goalie who won the Conn Smythe Trophy with a 1.41
goals-against average and .946 save percentage made it all the sweeter.

“It’s just such an emotional swing,”
Hitchcock said. “You’re down, figuring out how to kill a four-minute
power play, and then the game’s over.

“You hate to say things are must wins, but hopefully we’re going to gain a lot of confidence.”

The Kings were 4-0 in overtime during last season’s run to the Cup.

“What are you going to do, sit back and
feel sorry for yourself and then cost yourself two games?” defenseman
Rob Scuderi said. “You can try to learn from your mistakes, dust
yourself off and try to win a game on Thursday. I’m hoping we’re going
to pick the latter.”

Quick made 35 saves in regulation, keeping the Kings in it for Justin Williams’ tying goal with 31.6 seconds left.

Before Steen’s shocker, the Kings had been on a roll, outshooting the Blues 7-0 after coach Darryl Sutter called a timeout.

The Kings outscored the Blues 15-6 in
the playoffs last season and 14-7 in three regular-season meetings. But
they were thoroughly outplayed most of the way in Game 1, rescued time
and time again by Quick including a few saves early on that he wasn’t
sure he’d made judging by the backward glances.

Williams’ 16th career playoff goal tied
it at 1, not long after Quick was pulled for an extra attacker. Brian
Elliot, who had three shutouts during the Blues’ 12-3 surge to finish
the regular season, didn’t hug the post and missed with the glove on
Williams’ innocent-appearing shot from the right face-off circle.

The Blues also got the first goal in
the 2012 series opener when David Backes scored midway through the first
period. The Kings tied it less than eight minutes later and never
trailed the rest of the way against the No. 2 seed in the Western

Steen’s second career playoff goal made
the Kings pay for a too many men on the ice call. Shattenkirk made the
play, retrieving the puck near the blue line and firing a slap shot that
resulted in a big rebound and the lead at 9:05.

The Blues were 0 for 17 on the power play in last year’s series and 2 for 11 this season.

The Kings had a handful of chances to
tie it on the power play in the waning seconds of the first. Elliott
made two sprawling saves and got his glove on a backhander by Jeff
Carter that hit the right goal post near the buzzer.

During the Kings’ second-round sweep of
St. Louis last spring, Elliott allowed 13 goals on 89 shots for an .854
save percentage. Hitchcock revealed before this series that Elliott had
been battling an inner-ear infection since the end of the Blues’
first-round series win over the Sharks.

Notes: Kings D Robyn Regehr went
straight to the dressing room after getting his face bloodied by a skate
in the opening minute of the third but only missed a few shifts. The
game was delayed for a few minutes while workers dealt with a pool of
blood behind the Kings net. … Blues forward T.J. Oshie returned from a
15-game absence following ankle surgery and bumped slumping rookie
Vladimir Tarasenko, who had three assists in the last 15 games, from the
lineup. … Blues D Jay Bouwmeester was the second-most experienced
player in NHL history to make his playoff debut according to STATS LLC,
getting to the postseason after 764 regular-season games. Only Olli
Jokinen (799) waited longer.