Western Conference Semifinal Game 1 (Kings lead series 1-0)
Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings
I'm still not entirely sure how stay-at-home defenseman Matt Greene ended up directly in front of the St. Louis Blues net with his team shorthanded, but there he was making a huge play. He was in the right place at the right time, banging in a rebound to give his team a 2-1 lead late in the second period. It proved to be the game-winning goal, and for that we're giving him the No. 1 star in the Kings 3-1 win.
Was Greene the best player from start to finish on Saturday night? Probably not. An argument can be made for Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, maybe even Anze Kopitar. But he scored a shorthanded goal, something he had never done in his previous 496 NHL games, to help win a playoff game and that shouldn't be ignored.
For the Kings, it's already their third shorthanded goal of the playoffs. The rest of the league has scored four. Combined.
Oddly enough, it seemed to be the penalty on Los Angeles that led to Matt Greene's shorthanded goal. Late in the second period Kings forward Dwight King shoved Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo from behind (video here), knocking him out of the game and forcing the Kings penalty kill into action.
Maybe the Blues were upset that King only received a two-minute minor instead of a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Maybe they were dealing with the fact they lost one of their best players for the game and were still a bit shocked. Whatever the reason, the power play had a brutal start for St. Louis and it proved to be a game-changing moment.
Right off the initial faceoff the Kings stormed up the ice and even though Brian Elliott was able to stop Dustin Brown's initial shot, Greene was right there on the doorstep to score the game-winning goal.
The Kings ended up getting another opportunity on the same penalty kill just before the period came to a close as Brown and Mike Richards found themselves on a 2-on-1 rush. The Blues never created a quality chance on the advantage, the Kings had two, including a goal.
That's the game.
Obviously not the start the Blues were looking for in the series, which has to be disappointing because they were able to get off to such great start in the first period.
For the majority of the period the Blues really seemed to drive the play and prevent the Kings from generating many quality chances. St. Louis even scored first on a David Perron deflection, but were unable to build on it. The Kings were able to get the equalizer late in the period and then did their best to keep the Blues away from Quick for the remainder of the game. It also didn't hurt that Los Angeles spent most of the third period on the power play.