Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/4/12
This has a familiar feel for the Kings. Two wins on the road to start a playoff series. A Game 3 win at home. Now, the Kings will try to do something new: Close out a series at home. The Kings have a chance at another shocking upset. Less than two weeks after they knocked off the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in the first round, the Kings have a 3-0 series lead against the St. Louis Blues, the Western Conference's second seed. The Kings beat the Blues 4-2 in Game 3 on Thursday night in Los Angeles, but they know they still face a tough task. The Kings, to be certain, will want to close out the series in Game 4, because the Blues were the most successful home team in the NHL this season. "We're confident that we have a really good team in here, all the forwards, all the goalies, all the D," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "At the same time, we can't get too high on ourselves. It's 3-0 right now, but the fourth game is going to be the hardest to close out, and we've got to make sure it's our best game of the series, and it's going to be the toughest one to win." Sutter seemed pleased when he was told that some players were talking about how they could still play a better game Sunday. "That's a good way to feel, because it's tough to beat a team that is that much ahead of you in the regular season," Sutter said. "We just went through it." In the first round, the Kings won the first three games against Vancouver, then lost Game 4 at home and won the series in Game 5 in Vancouver. NOTES, QUOTES Sutter takes team on road for home game --Coach Darryl Sutter pulled an unusual move before Game 3 that seemed to pay off. The Kings traveled downtown to stay at a hotel on Wednesday night, then held their morning skate at Staples Center. The Kings, almost invariably, hold their game-day skates at their practice rink in El Segundo, which is close to most of the players' homes. The Kings, though, are 5-0 on the road in these playoffs, and Sutter might have been trying to bring a little bit of road mentality to a home game. Sutter didn't divulge his reason for the change, as he quipped, "I haven't been downtown very much, so I thought I'd ask the guys if they wanted to get down here. They didn't mind. Nice hotel." --The Kings have been winning with a young roster, with rookies Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov all getting regular minutes. None of them had ever appeared in an NHL playoff game before last month. But Sutter hasn't been shy about using his rookies in key situations, and one of those situations came up in the second period Thursday. The Blues had just scored a tying goal, but 40 seconds later, King scored his first playoff goal to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. "With King, the contribution is huge when you get a goal from a guy like (him)," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "He's been working hard for us all year, and I think the timing of that goal is pretty important." QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think there's any reason to, because you don't get nothing for three." -- Coach Darryl Sutter, on whether he was celebrating the Kings' Game 3 victory. ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: --LW Kyle Clifford missed a seventh consecutive game, but Clifford is now considered a healthy scratch, not an injured player. Clifford suffered a concussion in Game 1 of the first-round series against Vancouver, on April 11. Clifford was on and off the ice over the next couple weeks, with conditioning skating, but now has returned to full-team practice. After Thursday's morning skate, coach Darryl Sutter said Clifford has been cleared to play, but Sutter stayed with his fourth-line trio of LW Brad Richardson, C Colin Fraser and RW Jordan Nolan. Richardson had taken Clifford's place in the lineup. --LW Dustin Penner has been enjoying an unlikely, but important, resurgence for the Kings in the playoffs. A major disappointment in the regular season, in terms of offense -- Penner had seven goals in 65 games -- Penner now has six points in eight playoff games and has been promoted into a second-line role alongside C Mike Richards and RW Jeff Carter. "It's nice,'" Penner said. "It's not nearly finished, but it's a good start. I'm just trying to simplify and work on it one game at a time, one shift at a time. It's working for me right now, so that's how I'm approaching it." --C Mike Richards recorded a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," with a first-period fight, a second-period goal and a third-period assist. Richards has three goals and five assists in eight playoff games and even helped get the Kings' power play going in Game 3. The Kings had gone five consecutive games -- three against Vancouver, two against St. Louis -- but Richards scored a second-period power-play goal to give the Kings a huge two-goal lead. "I thought he took the bull by the horns tonight," Sutter said. "He did an awesome job." MEDICAL WATCH: --Simon Gagne (concussion) was put on injured reserve on Dec. 28 and is out indefinitely. --Scott Parse (hip) was put on injured reserve on Nov. 9 and underwent surgery on Dec. 2. Parse is out indefinitely.
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