Kings center Jordan Nolan and Blues defenseman Ian Cole prepare to fight… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Jonathan Quick was there for the Kings during the months of prolonged malaise this season, bailing them out time and time again with his athleticism and poise in goal.
Sunday offered a snapshot of those struggles as Quick lifted the Kings' franchise to a place it hasn't visited in 19 years.
Quick made 23 saves and captain Dustin Brown scored twice in leading the Kings to a 3-1 victory over St. Louis in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center. Brown's second goal was an empty-netter with 26 seconds left in the game.
The eighth-seeded Kings swept the No. 2 Blues, 4-0, and will face the winner of the Phoenix-Nashville series in the conference finals. They became the first No. 8-seeded team to eliminate the top two seeded teams in the playoffs.
The Kings have only been past the second round of the playoffs once since they joined the league and that was when they advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to Montreal in 1993.
Three of the four goals in the game came in the first period and, fittingly, the game-winner came from Brown, who scored with 1:43 left in the period, beating Blues goaltender Brian Elliott on the glove side with a wrist shot from the left circle.
It was his fifth goal of the playoffs and team-leading 10th point of the series. It broke a 1-1 tie as the teams traded goals from unlikely sources. Kings forward Jordan Nolan scored his first career playoff goal to make it 1-0 at 4:36. The only Blues’ player to solve Quick was defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who tied the score at 11:34.
The Kings had to survive a prolonged listless spell in the second period, in which they were outshot, 13-3, by the Blues. They didn’t get their second shot until there was 1:25 left in the period and shot No. 3 came with two seconds left.