ST. LOUIS – The Los Angeles Kings had every reason to be deflated.
Instead, they’re going home with a chance to wrap up their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues because they refused to let it a letdown linger.
Defenceman Slava Voynov scored on an odd-man rush eight minutes into overtime and the defending Stanley Cup champions, after surrendering the lead in the final minute of regulation, beat the Blues for the third straight time with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.
“We are a resilient group,” said Jeff Carter, who had the Kings’ other two goals. “A lot of guys have been through a lot of different experiences over their careers and I think we all kind of draw off that.
“We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low, and that’s a big thing for us.”
Game 6 is in Los Angeles on Friday night and the Kings have won nine in a row at home, including the regular season.
Blues rookie Jaden Schwartz took Voynov’s winner hard, smashing his stick several times against the sideboards and glass before leaving the ice.
“We lost an important hockey game. Frustration is definitely part of it,” Schwartz said. “We live to fight another day.”
Coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t sound at all defeated, calling Game 5 the team’s best overall effort of the series and calling overtime “a crapshoot.”
“If we play like that again, I like our chances,” Hitchcock said. “All we’ve got to do is win a road game and get it back here.”
Alex Pietrangelo scored on a wrist shot from the point with 44.1 seconds remaining in regulation and goalie Brian Elliott off for an extra attacker. That forced overtime for the second time in the series, and was the third goal in the final minute of the third period in the series.
“I saw him release it,” Quick said. “Usually when you see it come off the stick you have a better chance of stopping it, but I just couldn’t seem to pick it up, so it was disappointing at the time.
“But we were able to bounce back and get one there in overtime, which was huge.”
The Kings’ Justin Williams scored in the final minute of a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1, also in St. Louis. The Blues had a 2-0 series lead after Barret Jackman scored in the final minute of Game 2.
All five games have been decided by one goal, the only first-round series with that distinction.
The Kings ended the Blues’ eight-game home win streak in which Elliott allowed one goal each time.
Carter scored in the opening minute of the second and third periods and Quick had another strong game for the Kings, the first road team to win in the series.
Voynov scored the only goal in the Kings’ 1-0 Game 3 victory. That had been the defenceman’s lone point of the series before he joined the attack and slid the puck underneath Elliott’s pads off a setup by Anze Kopitar, confessing he’d been aiming high to the glove side.
“I think it’s very important for us to win on the road because we played so hard the last couple of games in St. Louis,” Voynov said. “So it will be a little bit easier for us to play in Los Angeles, where are fans are.”
Alex Steen’s third goal of the series tied it at 1 in the second period for St. Louis. Steen, whose short-handed overtime goal decided Game 1, twice took the puck from defenceman Jake Muzzin on the play.
Pietrangelo got the puck at the point off a clean faceoff win by David Backes and slid into the middle before threading a shot past Quick after two teammates were unsuccessful at deflection attempts.
Carter’s power-play goal capitalized on a tripping penalty to Jackman at the end of the second period. Kopitar got Elliott out of position on an odd-man rush before Carter converted a one-timer to put the Kings up 2-1.
The Blues dominated much of the scoreless opening period, responding from their fadeout while blowing a pair of leads in a 4-3 loss in Game 4. The reunited CPR fourth line of Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves had a handful of nice scoring chances in addition to setting the tone physically.
It took the Kings just 14 seconds to take the lead in the second period, though, when Carter tapped a rebound past Elliott. Carter, among the NHL leaders with 26 goals, had no points in the first three games.
The Blues’ No. 1 line was victimized again, with Patrik Berglund and David Perron on the ice for the fifth straight goal by the Kings.
Steen tied it a little over five minutes later. Steen knocked Muzzin’s clearing effort out of the air with his stick and won a battle for the puck behind the net before wheeling around and scoring on a high shot.
Notes: Cracknell was a healthy scratch in Game 4 in favour of rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, who made his playoff debut and was no factor. … Kings coach Darryl Sutter made one lineup change, too, scratching D Keaton Ellerby in favour of 21-year-old rookie F Tyler Toffoli, who made his playoff debut. D Matt Greene, still getting into condition after missing virtually the entire season, has yet to appear in the series. … Mike Richards assisted on Carter’s second goal and has three assists the last two games.