ST. LOUIS — With their pride at stake, the Kings rediscovered their physical game and played like a team that wanted to be in the playoffs, yet they still fell short of defeating the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Two days after being embarrassed in a five-goal loss in Game 1, the Kings did almost everything they set out to do only to have the Blues skate triumphantly away when former Mighty Duck Jim Campbell scored the winning third-period goal in a 2-1 victory before 20,050 at Kiel Center.
The Kings came out strong and did not allow the Blues the space they enjoyed Thursday. They matched St. Louis with 27 shots on goal, but the Blues' Grant Fuhr made one save more than King rookie goaltender Jamie Storr and that was the difference as St. Louis took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.
"I think that we proved that we are not as bad a team as we were when we got beat 8-3," said right wing Glen Murray, who scored the Kings' goal in the second period. "We came out hard but we have to stay out of the [penalty] box. We proved to ourselves that we can play with them but we still didn't win. Plain and simple. They are up 2-0 and now it's up to us to win Game 3 [Monday] at home."
In his first playoff start, stepping in for Game 1 starter Stephane Fiset, Storr gave the Kings a strong effort in goal and he got plenty of help from his teammates.
"They were desperate and came out playing with a lot more grit," said St. Louis forward Geoff Courtnall, who was not much of a factor after a six-point effort in Game 1. "It was quite a battle out there."
The Kings outhit St. Louis, 15-11, and held a 42-32 edge in faceoffs won, but they came up empty on eight power-play opportunities (they are now 0 for 16 in the series) and their season-long inability to clear the puck out of their zone in key situations cost them on Campbell's decisive goal.
With the score tied, 1-1, in the third period and St. Louis on its seventh and final power play of the game, the Kings had at least three chances to get the puck outside their blue line but failed. The Blues' Todd Gill stopped one of the attempts to clear and once the puck found its way to the slot, St. Louis center Pierre Turgeon beat two Kings to it and then made a no-look pass to Campbell, who scored his third goal of the series with a nifty move at the top of the crease.
"It was a great job by everybody," said Campbell, who was released by the Ducks in July 1996. "Gill did a great job to keep it in . . . Turgeon made a great pass, and [the shot] went through [Storr's] legs and hit the shaft of his stick and trickled through."
The loss extended the Kings' winless streak against St. Louis to eight games, including an 0-5-1 record this season. But they can take much pride in an effort that gave the Blues all they could handle.
There was no scoring in the first period but the Kings made a statement with their play that they were not going to be pushed around this time.
The Kings outshot St. Louis, 6-5, over the first 20 minutes but that advantage easily could have been more had they been able to score on the power play; they were 0 for 4 in the period.
In the second period, the Blues finally broke the scoreless tie on a four-on-four situation with a goal by Chris Pronger at 1:43. Center Craig Conroy made the play when he won a battle against King defenseman Jan Vopat along the boards and passed to Pronger, who was left alone and scored from the left circle for his first goal of the playoffs.
It was the sixth time in six games this season that the Blues scored first against the Kings.
Unlike Game 1, the Kings held together defensively and came back with a goal of their own later in the period. Murray scored his second of the series when he knocked in a rebound at 11:37. Vopat and defensive partner Aki Berg kept the play alive in the Blues' zone and Jozef Stumpel deflected Berg's shot front the left point to set up Murray's goal.
In the third period, the Kings continued to outplay the Blues only to have Fuhr keep them in the game with several acrobatic saves. The Kings had five shots on goal in the period before St. Louis made its first against Storr at the 5:27 mark.
The key play came at 9:54 when Stumpel received a questionable interference penalty for dragging down Conroy while chasing down a rebound in the slot. It was on the ensuing St. Louis power play that Campbell ended any hopes the Kings had for victory.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
NHL PLAYOFFS: KINGS vs. ST. LOUIS
BY THE NUMBERS
120:00--Total minutes played after two games.
00:00--Total minutes played after two games.
0--Goals for St. Louis' Brett Hull in series.
3--Goals for St. Louis' Jim Campbell in series.
0--Number of power-play goals for the Kings in eight opportunities.
25--Number of saves for King goalie Jamie Storr in his first playoff start.