The St. Louis Blues are currently down 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinals series against the Los Angeles Kings. If things weren't bad enough for the Blues, who now have to win at least one of the next two games in enemy territory to keep the series alive, they have now learned that goalie Jaroslav Halak will now be out for the entirety of the second round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues never really had much of a chance. Just 31 seconds after the opening puck drop in Game 2, Mike Richards gave the Los Angeles Kings a lead they'd never look back on. They'd score four first-period goals en route to the 5-2 victory, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead in the process.
Richards' goal was followed by three goals over a span of 5:27 near the end of the first -- two from Anze Kopitar and one from Jeff Carter. Andy McDonald cut the Blues' deficit to 4-1 just 18 seconds into the second period, but that was short-lived as Los Angeles potted their fifth and final goal of the game 1:08 later.
The Blues settled in a bit at that point and even started to control the play. St. Louis outshot Los Angeles 9-2 in the second period and 15-3 in the third, but Jonathan Quick stood tall and the Blues failed to capitalized on their power play chances.
They got a lot of those power play chances, too, thanks to the level of physical play that picked up as the game progressed. When all was said and done, the Kings went 0-for- on the power play in the game while the Blues went 0-for-9, and the teams combined for 110 penalty minutes in total.
Game 3 is set for Thursday night at Staples Center in L.A.
We're getting to the message-sending portion of Game 2 between the Kings and Blues. Los Angeles has a 5-2 lead and the series is all but set to head west with a 2-0 Kings edge, but St. Louis isn't giving up with 12 minutes left in the game. At the very least, they're letting their opponent know this series is still a battle, even if Los Angeles has completely controlled every aspect of the hockey game thus far on Monday night.
T.J. Oshie did so with a powerful hit. Like, really powerful. Dustin Penner was the recipient, and afterwards, the teams got together and had a little party. Mike Richards challenged Oshie immediately, and then everybody forgot about the hockey thing and started doing the punching thing.
Richards probably should have picked up an instigator penalty here. If that's not an instigator, it's tough to say what actually does fall under the rule, but he instead received two minor penalties for roughing. Penner picked up a roughing penalty too, as did Oshie and David Perron. The Blues couldn't capitalize on the ensuing power play, but that's the way things have gone for them in Game 2.
The No. 8 seed Los Angeles Kings are making noise again, looking to pull off their second straight series upset. After knocking off the No. 1 seed Canucks in five games, the Kings advanced to face the No. 2 seed St. Louis Blues. As they did against Vancouver, the Kings jumped on the Blues early in the series and took Game 1 of the conference semifinals in St. Louis on Saturday night.
LA took a 2-1 lead with a minute remaining in the second period on a fabulous shorthanded goal by Matt Greene, created off a breakaway by Dustin Brown. St. Louis then took themselves out of it in the third period, committing a slew of penalties which handed LA a man-advantage with the one-goal lead. When they weren't trying to kill off a penalty, they had to deal with one of the best goaltenders in the league, the Kings' Jonathan Quick.
The Kings were on the power play for a significant chunk of time at the mid-point of the third period, as the Blues spent nearly six straight minutes in the box. T.J. Oshie was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking penalty when he caught Colin Fraser and drew blood. St. Louis successfully killed off the Oshie penalty, but six seconds into five-on-five play, Kevin Shattenkirk caught an awful break on a battle down in front of the crease. The Blues defenseman quickly tried to clear the puck from right in front of goaltender Brian Elliott, but the biscuit sailed over the glass on the backhand flip. St. Louis killed off the two minute delay-of-game penalty, but it took away a huge stretch of time to try and even it up.
One had to wonder how much gas was left in the Blues' tank after killing off eight minutes of penalty time over the first 12 minutes of the period. They still managed to get some good shots on Quick, but the Vezina finalist was up to the task and slammed the door to seal the win. Dustin Penner would add an empty netter with 15 seconds remaining to remove all doubt.
The Blues will try to even the series up in Game 2 on Monday night at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings series between evenly matched teams with similarly relentless forechecking -- and backchecking -- styles will be a test of wills, a test of endurance and, in the end, a reflection of who gets the right breaks at the right time.
Jaroslav will miss at least Game 1 and 2 of the St. Louis Blues' second-round series against the Los Angeles Kings. Brian Elliott will remain in net, where he has thrived since Halak went down in Game 2 against the San Jose Sharks.