Kings Prevail After Deadly Mid-Day Storm

By HOWARD BERGER

ST. LOUIS (Apr. 29) – Though it was hardly a foreign sight to those that live here in the American mid-west, the darkening sky above this city late yesterday afternoon had “ominous” written all over it. The weather forecast called for a “passing storm or two” – not the accumulation of funnel clouds spawned by one of the most incredible eruptions of teeming rain and wind I have ever seen. Sadly, the brief but intense storm resulted in tragedy when a sports-bar tent on the south side of Busch Stadium crumbled and collapsed, claiming the life of one occupant and injuring nearly 100 others.

Here’s a story about the incident from CNN.com…

http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/28/us/missouri-tent-collapse/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Less than three hours later – amid tornado warnings across the city – the puck was dropped at Scottrade Center in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal between St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings. As lightning, thunder and pouring rain lashed the region, the Kings overcame a 1-0 deficit by scoring three unanswered goals to knock off the Blues, 3-1, and repeat the series-opening road victory they earned at Vancouver in the first playoff round.

FRIGHTENING VIEWS FROM MY HOTEL-ROOM WINDOW (ABOVE AND BELOW) OF STORM CLOUDS GATHERING OVER DOWNTOWN ST. LOUIS AROUND 3:45 YESTERDAY AFTERNOON.

Though the storm caused a fatality, heaven knows the human toll that might have resulted had it occurred an hour earlier, with more than 40,000 spectators watching the St. Louis-Milwaukee baseball game at Busch Stadium. By the time the sky opened at 3:50 p.m., the downtown home of the world-champion Cardinals and, all surrounding parking lots, had been vacated. Still, it was a sight unto itself, as the following images attest: 

FORBIDDING STORM-CLOUDS ENVELOPED THE SKY ABOVE DOWNTOWN ST. LOUIS. A FLASH OF LIGHTNING AND INSTANT CLAP OF THUNDER RESULTED IN A SUDDEN DELUGE OF RAIN THAT WIPED OUT VISIBILITY FROM THE 11th FLOOR OF MY HOTEL.

THOUGH THE RAIN SUBSIDED, THE SKY CONTINUED TO PROJECT A FEARFUL IMAGE (ABOVE AND BELOW), AS SIRENS BLARED IN THE DOWNTOWN REGION, WARNING PEDESTRIANS TO TAKE COVER AMID THE FEAR OF TORNADOES.

WHEN THE TENT COLLAPSE BECAME KNOWN, CNN PICKED UP THE STORY WITH METEOROLOGIST JACQUI JERAS (ABOVE) POINTING OUT THE STORM CELLS LINGERING NEAR ST. LOUIS, AND DESCRIBING THE TRAGIC SCENE (BELOW) ACROSS FROM BUSCH STADIUM.

THOUGH THE SKY CONTINUED TO THREATEN (ABOVE), BRAVE MEMBERS OF THE BUSCH STADIUM GROUNDS CREW EXAMINED THE INFIELD TARPAULIN (BELOW-LEFT), WHILE TRAFFIC PICKED UP ON MARKET ST. (RIGHT).

RELIEVED TO BE OUT OF THE ELEMENTS AFTER WALKING 15 MINUTES TO SCOTTRADE CENTER, I TOOK THE ABOVE IMAGE FROM THE ZAMBONI GATE AS THE CROWD FILED IN.

FROM THE PRESS BOX, THE BLUES’ PRE-GAME LIGHT EXTRAVAGANZA (BELOW).

THE TEAMS AND OFFICIALS STAND AT ATTENTION DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM – ST. LOUIS GOALIE BRIAN ELLIOTT BATHED IN FLOOD-LIGHT (TWO BELOW).

REFEREE STEPHEN WALKOM HAS A QUICK WORK WITH DAVID PERRON OF THE BLUES AND JUSTIN WILLIAMS OF THE KINGS BEFORE DROPPING THE PUCK (BELOW) TO BEGIN THE STANLEY CUP WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL.

EARLY ST. LOUIS PRESSURE (ABOVE) RESULTED IN PERRON’S GAME-OPENING TALLY AT 9:16 OF THE FIRST PERIOD – THE LEFT-WINGER’S SECOND GOAL OF THE PLAYOFFS.

FORMER LEAF ALEX STEEN CAUGHT HIS BREATH (ABOVE) DURING A TV BREAK, WHILE THE NASTY WEATHER CAUSED MANY FANS TO BE LATE FOR THE HOCKEY GAME (BELOW).

BRIAN ELLIOTT MAKES WAY FOR A MEMBER OF THE ICE CREW (ABOVE-LEFT) AND THE BLUES SHOW THEY CAN CLOG UP THE NEUTRAL ZONE (RIGHT) WITH THE BEST OF ‘EM.

FANS WATCH GAME FROM TOP OF THE ARENA’S SECOND LEVEL (ABOVE).

LOS ANGELES PLAYERS TALKED OVER THE ONE-GOAL DEFICIT AND THEN QUICKLY DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT (ABOVE) WHEN SLAVA VOYNOV’S SHOT ELUDED ELLIOTT WITH 3:02 LEFT IN THE FIRST PERIOD.

THE BLUES MAY HAVE GIVEN UP A GOAL, BUT DAVID BACKES CLEANED ANZE KOPITAR OF THE KINGS (ABOVE) ON THE ENSUING FACE-OFF AT CENTER ICE.

ONE OF SEVERAL “GATHERINGS” DURING THE GAME (ABOVE) AND THE EX-LEAFS (BELOW) – ALEX STEEN AND CARLO COLAIACOVO.

THE OPENING FRAME ENDED IN A DEADLOCK AND THE HOUSE-LIGHTS DIMMED WHILE THE ICE WAS RE-SURFACED (BELOW) IN THE FIRST INTERMISSION.

PLAYERS RETURN TO THE DARKENED ICE (ABOVE) FOR THE 2nd PERIOD.

THE MIDDLE FRAME GETS UNDERWAY AND THE VISITORS IMMEDIATELY CROWDED ELLIOTT (ABOVE) HOPING TO CASH IN ON MOMENTUM FROM THEIR LATE-FIRST PERIOD GOAL.

KINGS GOALIE JONATHAN QUICK AND BLUES FORWARD T.J. OSHIE WATCH THE PLAY ALMOST TOO CASUALLY (ABOVE) WHILE COLIN FRASER YELLS SOMETHING (BELOW) TO VETERAN ST. LOUIS FORWARD JASON ARNOTT (44).

THINK THE GAME WAS EVEN AT THE MIDWAY MARK OF REGULATION TIME (ABOVE)?

FANS WATCHED ANXIOUSLY FROM BEHIND THE GOAL (ABOVE-LEFT), SECONDS BEFORE DWIGHT KING OF LOS ANGELES CAUSED A MINOR STIR BY USHERING ALEX PIETRANGELO INTO THE END-BOARDS A BIT TOO ENTHUSIASTICALLY (BELOW) – INCURRING A MINOR PENALTY FOR BOARDING AT 18:47 OF THE MIDDLE FRAME. 

I GOT CAUGHT NAPPING WHILE ST. LOUIS WAS ON THE POWERPLAY AND MISSED A SUDDEN SHORTHANDED GOAL BY MATT GREENE THAT PUT LOS ANGELES AHEAD TO STAY AT 18:57. IT WAS THE FIRST SHORTHANDED MARKER IN THE PLAYOFFS BY A KINGS’ DEFENSEMAN SINCE ROB BLAKE TURNED THE TRICK IN 1993. THE TEAMS LEFT THE ICE (BELOW) AMID A CLUSTER AT THE END OF PERIOD TWO.

REFEREE ERIC FURLATT BEGINS THIRD PERIOD (ABOVE) BY DROPPING THE PUCK BETWEEN JASON ARNOTT AND JARRET STOLL.

A DIFFERENT ANGLE OF NEUTRAL-ZONE PLAY (ABOVE) FROM THE PRESS BOX.

BARRET JACKMAN OF THE BLUES MAKES A POINT (ABOVE-RIGHT) TO LINESMAN BRIAN MURPHY AFTER TEAMMATE T.J. OSHIE WAS ASSESSED A DOUBLE-MINOR FOR HIGH-STICKING AT 6:23 OF THE THIRD PERIOD. THE KINGS MAINTAINED PUCK POSSESSION BUT NEVER CAME PARTICULARLY CLOSE TO WIDENING THEIR SLIM LEAD.

JACKMAN (ABOVE) LEADS ANOTHER ROUND OF CHATTER.

A BUSY PRESS ROW (ABOVE) LATE IN LAST NIGHT’S SERIES OPENER.

THE BLUES WORKED HARD TO TIE THE GAME, BUT WERE HELD AT BAY – FORCING KEN HITCHCOCK TO REMOVE ELLIOTT (BELOW) FOR A SIXTH ATTACKER IN THE FINAL MINUTE. THE MOVE, HOWEVER, BACKFIRED WHEN DUSTIN PENNER BANKED A 150-FOOT SHOT OFF THE CENTER-ICE BOARDS AND INTO THE VACATED GOAL WITH 15 SECONDS LEFT.

AFTER A STORMY DAY, A CALMER LATE-NIGHT VIEW OF BUSCH STADIUM.

 

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