Kings 4, Blues 3
Even with just 20 minutes separating Los Angeles from a perilous elimination game in St. Louis, their dressing room was calm and cool.
Anze Kopitar wasn't surprised. After all, the Kings didn't win the Stanley Cup last year by panicking over a little trouble.
Kopitar tied it with 12:46 to play, Justin Williams tipped home the go-ahead goal 76 seconds later, and the Kings evened their first-round series with a win over the Blues on Monday night.
Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner also scored for the defending NHL champions, who responded to a late deficit with the same tenacity that made them champions. After four games of a remarkably even series, these two teams are level again.
"The resilience of our team is amazing," said Kopitar, who ended a personal 19-game goal drought after a slick pass from captain Dustin Brown. "To keep coming back and coming back like that, it's incredible. To be down 2-0, and then down 3-2 in the third period, it shows what we're capable of overcoming."
Mike Richards had two assists for Los Angeles, which dropped the first two games of the series in St. Louis and barely survived for a 1-0 victory in Game 3. The Kings erased an early two-goal deficit and a third-period deficit in Game 4 to earn their ninth consecutive home victory since March 23.
"That's playoffs," Williams said. "That's battling all the way to the final buzzer. We needed a big third period, and we responded. We're an experience team. We've been through a lot, and we knew we were facing a daunting task going back to St. Louis down 3-1, and we found it in ourselves. This is a group that's been in pressure situations before, and we know what we have to do to overcome it."
Game 5 is Wednesday in St. Louis, with Game 6 back at Staples Center on Friday.
T.J. Oshie scored his first two playoff goals for the Blues, who had the champs on the brink of serious trouble before Kopitar and Williams beat Brian Elliott, who stopped 25 shots.
"It's a worst-case scenario when you (lose) a two-goal lead," said Blues captain David Backes, who scored 1:12 into the game. "They had their fans behind them, but we've still got a lot more in the tank, and we're going to find it. It's just a matter of 20 guys staying on the same page."
The Kings hadn't won a playoff game after trailing by two goals since 2001, and they hadn't rallied from a third-period deficit to win a postseason game since the first round last year.
The Blues tried to protect a late lead in front of a raucous Los Angeles crowd, but they couldn't stop Kopitar, Los Angeles' perennial scoring leader. The Slovenian forward hadn't found the net since March 25, and acknowledged the struggle was weighing on him — but he gave Elliott no chance on his shot in front.
Moments later, Williams slipped in front of Elliott and expertly tipped home Richards' shot from the boards. A video review couldn't conclusively determine whether Williams' stick had been illegally high.
"You play all of last season and all of this season to build confidence in yourselves for situations like this," Richards said. "They've got a great team over there, and there's a lot of similarities between us. It's the smallest things that make the difference, and we had some success tonight."
Red Wings 3, Ducks 2 (OT)
Damien Brunner scored with 4:50 left in overtime, lifting Detroit to a series-evening win over Anaheim.
Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl started the winning sequence, passing the puck from behind Detroit's net up the ice to Joakim Andersson. He tried to connect with teammate Gustav Nyquist only to have Hiller poke the puck away.
Brunner, playing in his first NHL season, was in perfect position in front of the net and swatted in the puck to end the game.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Anaheim and Game 6 is back in the Motor City on Friday night.
During the Red Wings' run of playing in 22 straight postseasons, they have won 11 of 19 series that were tied at 2-2.
Pavel Datsyuk scored a second tying goal for the Red Wings with 6:33 left in regulation. Brendan Smith made it 1-1 early in the third.
Matt Beleskey gave the Ducks their first lead 5:07 into the game and David Steckel put them ahead midway through the third period.
Hiller, who shut out Detroit in Game 3, stopped the first 32 shots and finished with 46 saves. Jimmy Howard had 31 saves for the Red Wings.
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