Other than the obvious -- score more goals and win a game -- what must the Kings do Saturday night at Staples Center to dent the St. Louis Blues’ 2-0 series lead?
Get a good start and draw on the energy of the home crowd seemed to be players’ consensus after their morning skate at Staples Center. The Kings this season had a club-record .813 points percentage at home, on a 19-4-1 home record.
“We get to play in front of our home fans and they’re going to have tons of energy in the crowd,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We need to use that energy with us and we need to be doing what they did to us in Game 1.
“Game 1 was tough for us. They came out hard in the first period and they banged our bodies. We didn’t start playing well until OT came around. We need to do the same thing to them tonight: Bang bodies early, and try to get a goal quick and don’t step off the pedal at all.”
Getting a goal at any time would be helpful for a team that scored only one in each of the first two games. And those were scored under special circumstances: Justin Williams tied Game 1 after Jonathan Quick had been pulled for an extra skater, and Dustin Brown scored on a five-on-three advantage in Game 2.
“We haven’t been scoring, obviously, and I think the reason for that is we’re not getting in the dirty areas,” Doughty said. “We’ve been creating some decent first chances but we haven’t been getting those rebounds, and if we do get them, we aren’t getting them up high and ripping them by ‘em.
“I think all of us, even the defensemen, can step up our game and step up into the play and help with the offense. Tonight I know we’re going to be determined to get as many goals as we can.”
Brown said a good start and consistent effort are key factors but not the only important factors.
“At the end of the day you win and lose with your best players. Our best players have got to be our best players,” he said.
That includes his line. Center Anze Kopitar has not scored a goal since March 25, a span of 18 games. Right wing Justin Williams, though, led both teams with eight shots at Blues goaltender Brian Elliott in Game 2. No player on the Kings has more than one point after the first two games of this series.
“I thought we had a lot of good chances,” Brown said of the line’s performance in Game 2 at St. Louis. “You look at it, we had a couple good shifts in the [offensive] zone and that’s probably what we’re more used to as a line. The other side of it is we didn’t give up much. We didn’t spend nearly as much time in our [defensive] zone, which goes a long way.
“We’ve got to bear down on the chances we do get because obviously they’re playing pretty good hockey and their goalie’s playing pretty well.”
Brown also said he’s expecting the home fans to be emotionally charged.
“You can draw off that energy. It’s always fun playing here at Staples, especially this time of year. The fans go to another level,” he said. “And you definitely can get a little boost of energy, especially off the start. Just the atmosphere. It’s important for us to use that the right way.”