Blues out of tune in Game 2

Kings forward Anze Kopitar scores on Blues goaltender Brian Elliott during Game 2 of their NHL...

Kings forward Anze Kopitar scores on Blues goaltender Brian Elliott during Game 2 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Miss., April 30, 2012. (SARAH CONARD/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:05 AM ET

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis blew.

Worse than they have all year.

Now, they’re in grave danger of blowing their best chance at a Stanley Cup in forever.

After losing the opening game in their second-round playoff series with the hard-charging Los Angeles Kings, the Blues promised not to hit the panic button in Game 2.

They didn’t.

Instead, they opted for self-destruction, doing just about everything wrong in a disastrous 5-2 collapse Monday night.

They gave up an early goal, took early penalties, gave up a shorthanded goal, broke down defensively, took more undisciplined penalties and surrendered more untimely goals.

They became totally unglued.

“Full marks to L.A.; their emotional investment in the first period was greater than ours,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose club simply couldn’t handle the Kings' attack. “They scored four goals (in the first period), it was pretty easy. They checked us hard and we coughed up the puck, made mistakes.”

The Kings head home up 2-0 in the series while the Blues are left to wonder what the heck is going wrong.

After cruising through the regular season and the first round of the playoffs with ease, the Blues come face to face with a bigger, better and more determined version of themselves in the Kings, and are struggling for answers.

“Obviously this was a big game for us and we came out the way we wanted to,” said Anze Kopitar, who scored twice for the Kings. “We put them on their heels a little bit and scoring four goals in the first period is not too bad either.

“Now we need to refocus and get ready for Game 3. We know how important it is. If we win the next one we’ll put ourselves in a pretty good position.”

The Dustins, Penner and Brown, also helped lead the charge for L.A.

Penner had two assists to go with a goal and an assist in Game 1. Brown set up shorthanded goal, the second time he's done so in as many games, and had three assists on the night.

“If I was in their position, losing the first game at home, my thought process would be ‘We can’t go down 2-0,’ ” said Penner, who has six points in seven playoff games. “We talked about that before the game, that we had a great opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to really put the pressure on them. We’re going to come in with the same focus in Game 3, we’re not going to rest.”

It didn’t take long for the St. Louis implosion to begin.

First shift, first shot, 1-0 L.A.

Penner won a battle along the boards and took it to the net. Mike Richards closed the deal for the Kings at 31 seconds.

It went from bad to worse when L.A. scored shorthanded to make it 2-0, with Brown setting up Anze Kopitar at 14:16.

Two goals in the final 90 seconds of the opening frame from Kopitar and Carter made it 4-0. The Blues were booed off their own ice.

Game over.

And maybe series over.

St. Louis spent the rest of the game trying to send the message that things would be different in Game 3 Thursday in L.A. It’s going to take an epic turnaround on both sides of the ice for that to happen.

“We have to get back to the things that have made us successful all year long,” said Blues captain David Backes, who was embarrassed by the club's performance. “It’s not giving up shorthanded goals, it’s not defensive coverage lapses and it’s not hitting the goalie when you’ve got open nets or great chances. Those aren’t huge obstacles to overcome.”

They seem huge enough so far.

LATE HITS: Hitchcock said Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak will not be back in this series ... Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo's injury status is day-to-day.

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robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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