LOS ANGELES — Drew Doughty had a goal and two assists, Jonathan Quick made 18 saves and the Los Angeles Kings moved to the brink of an unlikely second-round sweep with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 on Thursday night.
Mike Richards scored the Kings' first power play goal in six games before setting up Doughty's clinching goal with 11:48 to play for the eighth-seeded Kings, who improved to 7-1 in the postseason with their third straight dominant win over second-seeded St. Louis.
Los Angeles could clinch its first trip to the conference finals since 1993 in Game 4 on Sunday.
Chris Stewart scored two goals and Brian Elliott stopped 18 shots in a shaky performance for the Blues, who must accomplish just the fourth comeback from an 0-3 deficit in NHL playoff history to advance.
Justin Williams and rookie Dwight King also scored for Los Angeles, while Anze Kopitar had two assists in just the Kings' second home playoff victory in their last eight games at Staples Center.
The late-blooming Kings barely scraped into the playoffs last month, but after eliminating Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver in the first round, they followed up two series-opening victories in St. Louis with another fundamentally sound effort in front of Quick.
After 44 years in the NHL without lifting the Stanley Cup, Los Angeles is on the brink of its first conference finals since Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille propelled the Kings to their only finals appearances 19 years ago.
Elliott's season-long tandem with Jaroslav Halak was wiped out by Halak's ankle injury in the first round, and Elliott hasn't looked comfortable alone in the spotlight. King, Richards and Doughty all scored on what appeared to be stoppable shots against Elliott, who dropped to 3-3 since replacing Halak while allowing nine goals on 43 shots in the last two games.
Richards' second-period goal snapped an 0-for-30 drought for the Kings' power play, and their penalty killers kept St. Louis scoreless in 14 power plays in the series. Doughty, the Kings' streaky $56 million defenseman, even added the first multipoint game of his playoff career.
The Kings are 5-0 away from Staples Center in the postseason, and they attempted to retain that road momentum by creating a road trip at home. The Kings staying in a hotel across the street Wednesday night and held their game-day skate at Staples Center, a rarity during the regular season. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter took advantage of a three-day break between home games for their two NBA co-tenants at Staples Center, the Lakers and Clippers.
The Blues put Alex Pietrangelo back in their starting lineup after the star defenseman missed Game 2 with an injury resulting from King sending him into the boards hard in the series opener. Pietrangelo had an assist, but the Kings took charge of the first period shortly after captain Dustin Brown leveled Pietrangelo with a crushing hit on the boards.
After several near-misses in front of Elliott early, Williams scored his 13th career playoff goal when his wide shot across the crease hit Elliott's sprawling back leg and bounced into the corner of the net, surprising even the official looking right at it.
Williams, who scored the final goal of the Carolina Hurricanes' Stanley Cup finals triumph in 2006, hadn't scored in these playoffs until back-to-back goals in the past two games.
Los Angeles controlled play into the second period, but Stewart evened it with a remarkable individual effort against three Kings, backhanding a shot past Quick for his first goal of the playoffs.
Just 40 seconds later, Matt Greene banked a long pass off the boards to King, and the 22-year-old beat Elliott to the far post for his first career playoff goal. Los Angeles gained control again, and Richards put the Kings up 3-1 with a sharp-angled shot that somehow trickled through Elliott for his third goal of the postseason.
Los Angeles' power play hadn't scored since Game 2 of its first-round series with Vancouver. Until Richards' goal, the Kings' penalty-killers had outscored the power play 4-3 in the postseason.
The Blues went roughly 10 minutes without a shot spanning the second and third periods, but Stewart trimmed the Kings' lead back to one goal by diving to tap home a rare loose rebound off Quick with 15:25 to play for his second career multigoal playoff game.
But Richards advanced the puck and made a drop pass to Doughty, whose fierce shot trickled underneath Elliott and rolled in.