Surprising Kings oust Blues in NHL sweep
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-PresseThe Los Angeles Kings continued their giant-killer run through the NHL playoffs on May 6, punching their ticket to the Western Conference finals by sweeping the St. Louis Blues in four games.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 24 shots and captain Dustin Brown scored twice in the Kings’ 3-1 victory over the second seeded Blues at Staples Center arena.
“We didn’t want to play another game in St. Louis and we’re happy to be moving on,” Kings forward Justin Williams said. “We now have a sense of belonging. We deserve to be here.” In the night game, goaltender Martin Brodeur made his 40th birthday a special one as he backstopped New Jersey to a 4-2 win over Philadelphia, giving the Devils a 3-1 series lead.
Quick, a finalist for the league’s Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender, was brilliant for the Kings in the regular season and he has carried that over into the playoffs.
“There is a reason he is one of the top three goalies in the league,” Brown said of Quick.
Quick was a member of the USA team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and is expected to challenge for the No. 1 goalie spot at the Sochi Games in 2014.
The eighth-seeded Kings registered their first sweep of a best-of-seven series and advanced past the second round of the post-season for just the second time in their 44-year franchise history.
The Kings have now shocked the top two seeds in back-to-back Western Conference playoff series.
They stunned top-seeded Vancouver in five games in the opening round before tackling the Blues.
The last time the Kings made it this far in the post-season was in 1993, when Wayne Gretzky led Los Angeles to the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s huge,” Brown said. “But we are only halfway to where we want to be.” The Kings now wait for their next opponent, either the Phoenix Coyotes or Nashville Predators with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.
Phoenix leads that series three games to one and can wrap it up with a win on Monday at home.
Brown said the Kings would welcome a break from the intense grind of the playoffs.
“Now we get to rest and not just physically but also maybe a day or two of just not thinking about (playoffs),” Brown said.
The Blues were trying to become just the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Brodeur made 20 stops and also recorded a rare assist on a goal by forward Dainius Zubrus as he posted the 106th win of his playoff career on Sunday.
Former first round Flyer draft pick Zubrus came back to haunt his former club by scoring twice on Sunday. Zubrus, of Lithuania, notched the winner in the second period on a slap shot and scored into an empty net late in the third.
The Flyers made Zubrus the 15th overall pick in the 1996 NHL entry draft.
The Devils are one victory away from reaching the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003. They can advance with a victory tonight in game five.