Kings 2, Blues 1
Dustin Penner could have simply dumped the puck and allowed the clock to run out on the second period of yet another dead-even game.
Instead, he ripped a long slap shot at the net, and it ramped off a St. Louis stick and flew past Brian Elliott right before the buzzer sounded.
"You might as well try," Penner said with a shrug. "You never know if you don't throw it on net."
That's the type of positive thinking that made Los Angeles into champions, and that's why it finally got rid of the Blues after a bruising first round of their title defense.
Penner scored the tiebreaking goal in the final second of the second period, and the Kings advanced with their fourth straight victory over the Blues, in Game 6 on Friday night.
Jonathan Quick made 21 saves and Drew Doughty scored his first goal of the postseason for the reigning Stanley Cup winners, who won four straight to finish off fourth-seeded St. Louis.
The Blues seemed poised to head into the final minutes with ample momentum after Chris Stewart's tying goal early in a period dominated by St. Louis. Instead, Penner heeded his teammates' instructions to shoot from just inside the blue line — and his rocket of a shot glanced off St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak's stick blade and beat Elliott for his second goal of the playoffs.
"I was trying to look at the clock, to see if it counted," Kings center Mike Richards said. "It all happened pretty quick. That's a great feeling."
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 goal — officially with 0.2 seconds left — entered Kings lore alongside Penner's winning overtime score to end last season's Western Conference finals in Phoenix.
"When the game means a lot more, it's definitely a lot more fun to play," said Penner, who spent part of the season in coach Darryl Sutter's doghouse as a healthy scratch. "These types of games bring out the best in this team."
Indeed, the Kings held up well under enormous pressure from the hungry Blues: 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.
Elliott stopped 14 shots for the Blues, who were eliminated by Los Angeles for the second straight season, this time despite taking a 2-0 series lead. St. Louis physically beat up the Kings, who responded with hard-nosed play of their own, but Quick outplayed Elliott by a minor margin.
"What I'm going to tell them is it's not good enough," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "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. ... We took everything to the beach, but we didn't finish putting it in the water."
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.
Red Wings 4, Ducks 3 (OT)
Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg scored his second goal 1:04 into overtime, forcing a Game 7.
Detroit blew a two-goal lead in the last 3½ minutes of the third period, sending the team to a fourth OT in a series for the first time in franchise history.
Emerson Etem and Bobby Ryan scored 51 seconds apart late in regulation to pull the Ducks into a 3-3 tie.
Zetterberg, who scored a go-ahead goal 6:19 into the third period, had a shot to win it with about a minute left. But his shot hit the right post and slid across the crease.
Second-seeded Anaheim will host seventh-seeded Detroit on Sunday night in the deciding game.
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