LOS ANGELES — Dustin Penner scored the tiebreaking goal in the final second of the second period, and the Los Angeles Kings advanced to the second round with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Friday night.
Jonathan Quick made 21 saves and Drew Doughty scored his first goal of the postseason for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who won four straight to finish off fourth-seeded St. Louis.
Penner put the Kings ahead with his latest big playoff goal, ripping a slap shot from just inside the blue line past Brian Elliott right before time expired.
Elliott stopped 14 shots and Chris Porter scored his first career playoff goal for the Blues, who were eliminated by Los Angeles for the second straight season, this time despite taking a 2-0 series lead.
Los Angeles has won 10 straight games at Staples Center since March, and its sellout crowd waved white towels and roared as the Kings became the first Stanley Cup champion in three years to advance to the second round.
Every game in this bitter, physical series was decided by one goal, and Quick allowed just 10 goals in the six-game series. The Blues won the first two at home, but the Kings responded with four straight gritty victories, winning a playoff series after trailing 0-2 for just the second time in franchise history.
The defending champs won’t know who they’ll face next until Anaheim and Detroit finish their series Sunday night. If the second-seeded Ducks win, Southern California’s two NHL teams will meet in the playoffs for the first time.
The Kings took a first-period lead on Doughty’s goal, but St. Louis largely controlled the next 30 minutes and seemed poised to head into the third with momentum — until Penner skated over the blue line and fired a rocket of a shot that ramped off St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak’s stick and beat Elliott for his second goal of the playoffs.
Penner returned to the Kings for a chance to defend his second Stanley Cup title, but fell out of favor with coach Darryl Sutter during the regular season, repeatedly sitting out as a healthy scratch. Los Angeles is well aware of Penner’s playoff value, however: He scored the overtime goal that ended the Western Conference finals in Phoenix last season.
Quick took it from there, showing off his Conn Smythe Trophy form while stopping every shot in the third period.
The Blues seriously tested the Kings, whose title defense already has been tougher than last season’s championship run. That eighth-seeded club roared to a 3-0 series lead in all four matchups and beat the Western Conference’s top three seeds during a 16-4 rampage through the postseason.
The Kings went ahead with 7½ minutes left in the first period of Game 6 when Colin Fraser made a drop pass to Doughty. He froze Polak with a faked slap shot before firing a nasty wrist shot past Elliott.
Doughty, the former Norris Trophy finalist who excelled throughout the Kings’ championship run last year, hadn’t scored a goal in the series despite logging more than 29½ minutes per game. Doughty plays nearly seven more minutes per game than any other Los Angeles player.
St. Louis responded with appropriate desperation, pressing the Kings and barely missing a goal when Chris Stewart ripped a shot off Quick’s post late in the first period.
The Blues equalized early in the third when Polak’s long slap shot deflected off Porter’s body and sneaked inside Quick’s far post. Porter, who turns 29 later this month, made his NHL playoff debut in Game 1.
Kings captain Dustin Brown forced a turnover by Polak and got a breakaway late in the period, but made one too many dekes and ended up crashing into Elliott’s post headfirst, failing to get off a shot.
The clock ran out while Penner’s slap shot rattled around in Elliott’s net, but video replay confirmed the puck entered the net in plenty of time.
The Kings played solid defense in the third until midway through the period, when Patrik Berglund jumped on a turnover and skated in alone for two chances. Quick stopped the first, and the second sailed above the crease.
St. Louis wasn’t whistled for a penalty in Game 6 until 9:32 remained. The Blues pressed the attack in the final minutes, but Quick had little serious trouble.
NOTES: NHL champions Chicago and Boston both lost in the first round of their title defenses over the previous two seasons. The NHL hasn’t had a repeat champion since 1998. ... Los Angeles beat Detroit in a first-round series after trailing 0-2 in 2001. The Kings and Blues have split their four playoff matchups in the franchises’ history. ... The Kings activated F Jordan Nolan and scratched F Kyle Clifford, who didn’t participate in the morning skate for undisclosed reasons. D Keaton Ellerby was scratched for the second straight game after playing the first four, and D Alec Martinez played his fourth straight game. ... The Kings recalled RW Anthony Stewart from Manchester of the AHL, adding him to 10 prospects recalled Thursday. He is Chris Stewart’s older brother.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.