ST. LOUIS - Goals from unexpected sources put the Los Angeles Kings in position for another road triumph. Jonathan Quick—no surprise there—made those scores stand up.
Matt Greene scored his first career playoff goal short-handed late in the second period and rookie Slava Voynov also got his first of the playoffs as the Kings beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in the opener of a Western Conference semifinal series on Saturday night.
"It's definitely a great feeling to be able to chip in and help out a little bit," Greene said. "But we have a lot of work to do."
Quick, who shut out the Blues twice in the regular season, made 28 saves and is 5-1 in the post-season with a 1.55 goals-against average. He was at his best in the first period, charging from the crease to stuff a backhander by B.J. Crombeen and also stopped a wraparound attempt by Patrik Berglund.
"It was a great win," Quick said. "We get to enjoy it for five minutes and then focus on Monday."
Game 2 is Monday night in St. Louis.
The Blues could be without defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, who didn't play in the third period after getting his head driven into the boards by Dwight King behind the St. Louis net on the penalty that led to the short-handed goal.
Coach Ken Hitchcock seemed to indicate Pietrangelo had concussion symptoms, but said he couldn't concern himself with that right now.
"I don't want to get into whether he's going to play or not play," Hitchcock said. "Everybody saw the hit. We all know what the injury is. If he's not in, then somebody else gets to jump up.
"I've got bigger issues than replacing Petro. We need much more commitment from our top players."
Dustin Penner added an empty-netter for the Kings, who were 3-0 on the road while taking down the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games in the first round. Los Angeles is the eighth seed in the conference but won the season series 3-1.
"No one gave us a good chance against Vancouver, I don't think," forward Dustin Brown said. "I doubt very few people are giving us a chance against the Blues. It's up to us."
David Backes opened the scoring on a deflection in the first period for the Blues, the No. 2 seed in the West and the top remaining seed in the conference.
St. Louis also lost the opener of the first round in double-overtime against the Sharks, before recovering to win four straight. Hitchcock said play dropped off after the first period.
"We kind of took a rest and they stayed going and that's the result," Backes said. "We didn't get enough traffic after that, didn't win enough battles, and the result is we're digging out of another hole here."
Brian Elliott made 26 saves for the Blues, who had a franchise-record 30 home victories during the regular season. The Blues were handicapped in the third period by being on the penalty kill for six consecutive minutes, the first four a double-minor high sticking on T.J. Oshie followed by a delay of game on Kevin Shattenkirk for flipping the puck over the glass.
Brown scored two short-handed goals in the first round against the Canucks and set up the go-ahead goal with just over a minute left in the second period. Shattenkirk overskated the puck after Backes won the draw in the offensive zone, and Brown beat Shattenkirk to the net where Elliott made a tough save but left Greene with an easy tap-in.
Greene scored his first career playoff goal in 36 games, and earned just his third point. He has 11 career goals in seven seasons.
Pietrangelo led all skaters with 16:26 of ice time the first two periods. He had a cut on his chin in the locker room before trainer Ray Barile escorted him away from reporters.
"It's a pretty good trade when their third line gets a penalty and our best player is out for the rest of the game," Backes said. "Hopefully he's back for the next one.
"He doesn't sit there and embellish and wait for the medic unit to come out, he's tough and he gets up and he skates off."
Both teams snapped lengthy droughts in the series in the first period.
Backes' deflection at 9:16 ended Quick's shutout streak of 1:05:38 against St. Louis, dating to Feb. 3 when the Blues won 1-0 on a goal by Jamie Langenbrunner. The Blues also scored first for the fourth time in six games in the post-season.
David Perron made contact halfway up the shaft on a wrist shot by Pietrangelo from the point, and Backes altered the course of the puck again that beat Quick between the legs.
Quick shut out the Blues twice in the regular season and allowed eight goals on 172 shots in first round.
Voynov tied it at 16:58 as the Kings capitalized on a giveaway by defenceman Barret Jackman, who lost a battle for the puck with Penner. Elliott couldn't cover the ground in time after Penner's cross-ice feed as Voynov, whose eight goals tied for the NHL lead among rookie defencemen, scored his first point of the playoffs.
Elliott and Jaroslav Halak each shut out the Kings in the regular season, and the goal ended a dry spell of 1:47:47 since Willie Mitchell scored Nov. 22 in a 3-2 victory at St. Louis.
NOTES: Most of the St. Louis Cardinals attended the game hours after beating the Milwaukee Brewers, with reliever Kyle McClellan showing up clad in a Backes jersey. Shortstop Rafael Furcal and right fielder Carlos Beltran attended their first hockey game. ... The Kings have won six in a row on the road overall dating to last season.