Western Conference Semifinal (Kings lead series 3-0)
Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings
Mike Richards did it all for the Kings on Thursday night, recording a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a goal, an assist and a fight (shown above, against Jamie Langenbrunner). He also won over 50 percent of his faceoffs, including three of the four he was asked to take in the defensive zone. It was a complete game from one of the most complete, well-rounded players in the NHL.
Chris Stewart scored the only two goals of the night for St. Louis, and each time the Kings responded with a quick goal of their own to regain any momentum they may have lost.
After Stewart tied the game at one early in the second period, Dwight King came back less than a minute later, scoring his first career playoff goal to give Los Angeles the lead right back. Stewart scored his second goal early in the third period, pulling St. Louis to within one, and that too was quickly answered by Los Angeles thanks to a Drew Doughty goal (set up by Richards) to regain the two-goal lead.
A couple of things.
For one, it was the worst possible time for Blues goalie Brian Elliott to completely fall apart.
It was also another example as to how the Los Angeles Kings are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. We're not even halfway through the playoffs yet, but the Kings have the look of a team that has a chance to win it all. After Thursday's game they're now 7-1 in their first eight playoff games, and have outscored the top-two seeds in the Western Conference, an excellent Blues team and the Presidents' Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks, by a 24-14 margin.
Ignore the seed. These guys are good. Really good.
They have a chance to complete the sweep on Sunday.