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The Los Angeles Kings touched down at LAX shortly after 2:00 am Friday morning and reported to Toyota Sports Center for meetings and an optional practice shortly before noon.
Jonathan Bernier took shots from the same 12 skaters that took the ice during Wednesday’s practice in St. Louis: Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Keaton Ellerby, Tyler Toffoli, Colin Fraser, Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner, Jordan Nolan, Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson.
Darryl Sutter indicated that Greene could return to the lineup on Saturday while indicating that several players may be nursing bumps and bruises associated with a series as physical as Los Angeles-St. Louis.
“Yeah he’s possible,” Sutter said of Greene’s availability for Game 3. “I think that everybody that’s out skating today is possible playing tomorrow. We’ve got some guys banged up that aren’t. We’ll see how it is in the morning and go from there.”
QUICK TO FORGET
There was rightly little concern amongst the players over Jonathan Quick’s state of mind after Games 1 and 2 in which the goaltender shouldered much of the blame for difficult losses. Quick, often willing to defer credit to teammates following a win, stated “I’ve got to stop that. That’s my fault,” in regards to Barret Jackman’s late goal that led to St. Louis’ 2-1 win on Thursday night.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Rob Scuderi said. “Game 1 – I didn’t get a clear on the penalty kill that led to the first goal. I’m not happy about it, but I’m not going to sit there and cry about it and think about it. You’ve got to get back out there and play for your team and try to get it back as best you can. Although he might feel a total sense of responsibility, we all share it as a group.”
It was a collective sentiment, as described by Dustin Penner.
“Everybody’s shouldering the burden,” the veteran forward said. “He does that because he wants to be better. Everybody wants to be better. He does that as a leader, as a veteran, to push himself. We’re not all gathering around him and singing kumbaya because he’s saying that.”
The first two even strength goals scored in the series were St. Louis’ third period goals in Game 2. The first goal, which deflected past Jonathan Quick off the skate of Patrik Berglund, was the type of “greasy” goal you’d expect to jumpstart the five-on-five scoring in the series. With 51 seconds remaining in the third period, Barret Jackman jumped up into the play to score an even strength game-winner by converting a rare odd-man three-on-two rush.
When asked about the aspect of the team’s play that he’d like to see improved on Saturday, Sutter was quick to pinpoint the offense.
“Clearly score more,” Sutter responded. “We haven’t scored a five-on-five goal in the series. We scored, really, a six-on-four goal, to tie it up with the goalie out, and then a 5-on-3 goal last night. There’s only been two scores in the series total. It just tells you how close the teams are. It’s a matter of cashing in opportunities. Quite honest, in both games, both teams had 1-0 leads and weren’t able to score the second goal during regulation. If there was any frustration from our game last night, that would be it. We played a really good game and we had guys, your top scorers, with opportunities to go up 2-0, and couldn’t cash in.”
On ways to generate goals, Jarret Stoll pinpointed the need to generate secondary opportunities after primary opportunities.
“Just penetrate more. You can’t be on the outside,” Stoll said. “You’re not going to score many goals on the outside in this league, especially in the playoffs. If you’re cycling, you’ve got possession, you’ve got zone time, that’s one thing. But getting to the net, getting shots to the net, making them turn and finding loose pucks, that’s a tough play. We know that from playing in D-zone. Pucks are coming in all the time. It’s a tough play. You don’t know where they’re going. You don’t know where the rebound is. You’re on your heels. Just penetrate and get to the middle, get to the inside, and get more shots.”
Credit should also be given to Brian Elliott, who has both benefitted from a defense that allowed 24.2 shots per game – the second-lowest per-game average – while providing excellent minutes in his own right following a two-game conditioning stint at AHL-Peoria in late March.
“Well, he’s only allowed two goals, so we’ve got to get more shots, and we’ve got to bury our Grade-A scoring chances,” Dustin Penner said.