Dustin Penner's long shot from the left wing with two-tenths of a second remaining in the second period Friday gave the Los Angeles Kings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, clinching the first-round playoff series for the Kings.
The shot deflected off of a stick past Blues goalie Brian Elliott as a stunned Blues coach Ken Hitchcock looked on from the bench in disbelief.
"We didn't get the puck deep twice when we had a chance to clear," Hitchcock said during his postgame media session televised by Fox Sports Midwest. "You can't blame Elliott on that, it was a complete deflection and went up almost four feet from where the original shot was. We didn't get it cleared."
The Blues had numerous chances to net the equalizer, but goaltender Jonathan Quick came up big again as they were eliminated by the Kings for the second straight year.
The Blues won the first two games of the series only to watch the Kings win the next four to advance. They outshot the Kings 22-16, but Quick turned away 21 of them.
"We took everything to the beach, but we didn't finish putting it in the water," Hitchcock said, lamenting the numerous missed scoring opportunities by his team. "That's disappointing. We're going to have to live with that the rest of the summer."
Blues center Patrik Berglund was sent in alone midway through the third period on a pass by David Perron, but couldn't lift the puck over Quick.
With just over two minutes left, a shot by Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hit the crossbar. The Blues pulled Elliott for an extra attacker with less than a minute left but saw their playoff dreams dashed.
Hitchcock was asked about his final message to the team.
"What I'm going to tell them is it's not good enough," he said. "If you want to be a champion, it's not good enough. We're a pretty hungry group here from management to coaches to put a championship team together -- and it's not good enough.
"We really bought in for the last two months in a big way ... but if you get opportunities like this, like we did in Game 3 and Game 5 and again tonight. ... You can't miss those opportunities."
Playing a first period that mirrored their efforts for most of this playoff series, the Blues played mostly solid hockey and still found a way to fall behind 1-0 to the Kings.
Blues forward Chris Porter's first career goal at 4:39 of the second period tied it 1-1. After a shot from Porter was blocked, David Backes got the puck back to Polak at the right point.
Polak loaded up and sent a hard shot toward the net that was deflected past Quick by Porter for his first goal.
The Blues had a great chance to take the lead with back-to-back pad saves on Ryan Reaves and Kevin Shattenkirk midway through the second period.
But with the second period about to end, Penner ripped a shot from left wing that made its way past Elliott and into the net to regain the lead for Los Angeles.
A few minutes earlier, a turnover by Polak led to a breakaway for Dustin Brown but the Kings forward was unable to get a shot off.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty gave his team a 1-0 lead 12 minutes, 37 seconds into Game 6 on Friday at the Staples Center in L.A. With the Kings on a 2-on-2, Polak kept backing in and Doughty used him as a screen as he beat Elliott with a high shot.
It marked the fourth time in six games the Kings struck first against the Blues.
The Blues' best early scoring chance came when Chris Stewart hit the goalpost late in the first period.
While the Blues outshot the Kings 8-5 in the first period, the Blues had more missed shots (11) than the ones they put on net.