The first game of the Kings-Blues Conference Semifinal was the close checking match everyone had expected. The Kings walked away with the victory and yet again proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 playoffs. Many media outlets have highlighted Jonathan Quick's eye-popping saves early in the game (with good reason) along with Alex Pietrangelo's injury brought upon by a Dwight King boarding infraction. Yet, there were other factors involved that led to the King's victory. Their defense cut down on quality opportunities and the Blues net presence, their forwards were able take control the puck, and the Blues' took some poorly timed penalties.
Highlights after the jump...
The Blues controlled the action early in the first with strong puck management and net presence. It finally payed off on David Perron's goal:
The 1st period ended with shot differentials being even, yet the Blues seemed to have the more quality chances:
The 3rd saw the Blues lose their composure as they spent nearly half the period in the box. They did manage to keep themselves in the game by not allowing a PP marker while blocking a number of shots (23 total). Dustin Penner though ended the game with a EN bank shot and the Kings as a result now reap the reward of holding home-ice advantage in the series.
Big questions surrounding King's hit remain. Will Alex Pietrangelo be available for Game 2? He was not at practice today and remains questionable.
The Kings maintain that there should be no supplemental discipline from the league. Darryl Sutter even went as far as to say that it was "as much as Pietrangelo's own fault".
As Niesy highlighted in a previous post, supplemental discipline seems unlikely. Still though that brings about an interesting situation should King be suspended. Do the Kings then insert Clifford into the lineup as he attempts to make his way back from a concussion or do they try Loktionov who performed very well as a fill in while Richardson was out with appendicitis? It is debatable which of the two matchup better against the Blues.
What would you do?