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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kings regain title-winning form

Blues on defensive after wilting in Game 4

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ST. LOUIS -- The defending Stanley Cup champions certainly looked the part while evening their series against the St. Louis Blues, whose best move is turning the page.

The Los Angeles Kings dominated the second half of Game 4, powering past a pair of deficits behind forechecking that put the Blues on their heels, and have all the momentum in a series that's tied at 2-2.

The Kings' plan is simple for Game 5 Wednesday night in St. Louis: Keep the pedal down and play physical but smart.

"There hasn't been much difference in the games whether it's home or road," coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's all one-goal games and they're all third-period games and you just by shift by shift."

The Blues have a day to re-boot the system and still have home-ice advantage, by virtue of finishing a single point ahead of the Kings for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The home team has won all four games, each by a goal.

"Who's got control of anything right now?" coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They dialed it up, so there's another level out there and it's our job now to answer the level. We've got home ice, we've earned it, and it's best of three now and we'll see where it goes."

St. Louis has won eight in a row at home, allowing one goal each time, and are facing a team that's been vulnerable away from the Staples Center. The Kings have a nine-game winning streak at home and have dropped eight in a row on the road, including a pair of shootouts in April.

The Blues appeared primed for a knockout punch in Game 4 with two early goals, setting the tone for an uncharacteristic wide-open 4-3 final that matched the scoring total the entire series for both sides. The Kings shrugged off that deficit, scored twice in 1:16 in the third to seize their first lead, and never looked back.

"I think we've been getting better every night," forward Jeff Carter said. "We've been in that position before and these guys don't get too down on themselves. We just chipped away."

The Kings became the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup last year, knocking off the first, second and third seeds. They trailed in the third period just once, in the opening round. They had to dig deep in Game 4, erasing a two-goal deficit for the first time since 2001. The last two periods, the Kings outshot St. Louis 23-10.

"There's a lot of resilience in this room," forward Dustin Penner said. "Obviously, we draw on experiences from last year."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 D2

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