Sharks Lose 4-2 to Kings, Losing Streak Up to 4

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks fell 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center Thursday. Kings goals came from Dustin Brown, Matt Roy, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Jonathan Quick made 23 saves in the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 31 saves in the loss. Sharks goals came from Barclay Goodrow and Tomas Hertl. The Flames won in Calgary on Thursday, so the Sharks have now fallen five points behind them for first in the Pacific.

After the game, Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said:

We got now 4 in a row. We know the playoffs are coming soon and… we have to wake up and be ready for tomorrow’s game because if we play like that in playoffs, you know, it’s just four-zero and you’re out and we have to be ready and start playing our hockey and everything else comes with that.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was asked whether losing four in a row at this point of the season was particularly concerning. Burns said: “Every loss is doomsday and every win feels good. I think that’s just kind of the way this game is. You lose one game and you want to try to get it back right away and we haven’t done it. So we’re just gonna kinda get our game back and start winning.”

The Sharks started the game without several key players. Joe Pavelski has been out with a lower body injury since Monday. Erik Karlsson was also still out. Finally, Logan Couture was out with the flu Thursday. Of the holes in their lineup, Burns said: “It’s tough to lose anybody but you gotta play, you just play. I mean it’s good for somebody else to, they get more time or move up or whatever it is.”

Los Angeles took the lead 5:19 into the first. Dustin Brown skated up the boards with Hertl between him and the net. He took a no-look shot between Hertl’s skates. With two more skaters screening him, Jones did not see Brown’s shot coming. The Sharks challenged the goal for goaltender interference because one of those skaters, Alex Iafallo, had a skate in the blue paint. Toronto did not consider it sufficient to erase the goal. Assists went to Sean Walker and Adrian Kempe.

The Sharks tied it up at 17:33 of he period. Joonas Donskoi brought the puck up from the goal line and passed it to Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the point. Vlasic took a quick shot into heavy traffic and Barclay Goodrow deflected it past Jonathan Quick. It was Goodrow’s seventh of the season, with Vlasic and Donskoi getting the assists.

The Kings outshot the Sharks 15-7 in the first period. There were no power plays, only matching minors in the final two minutes that resulted in some four-on-four play.

The Sharks took the lead early in the second period, at 3:45. Hertl made a pass to Burns as Burns approached the Los Angeles blue line, then followed Burns into the zone. Burns drew several defenders to him before the made a pass back to Hertl for the shot. The puck went by Quick on the far side.

The Sharks had a power play near the end of the period, but did not score there. The teams were tied in shots for the second period at 11.

Matt Roy tied the game up for Los Angeles 9:28 into the third period. Iafallo had the puck above the face-off circle and he sent a gentle pass to nearby Roy at the point. Roy blasted it to the net and it went off of a Sharks stick and into the net. Assists went to Iafallo and Anze Kopitar.

Kopitar gave the Kings the lead at 11:45. He got behind the Sharks defense and found the puck as it came out of a board battle up below the blue line. He faked to the right and shot left and beat Jones. Assists went to Iafallo and Brown.

Jeff Carter ended a 20-game goal drought with a back-hand from the defensive zone into an empty net at 18:43. The Sharks were on a power play and also pulled Jones for a six-on-four advantage.

The Kings outshot the Sharks 35-25 in the game.

The Sharks play again Friday against the Anaheim Ducks at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Lose 4-1 to Kings

San Jose Sharks’ Mikkel Boedker, left, celebrates after scoring against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in San Jose , Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

by M. Walsh

SAN JOSE– After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Sharks Captain Joe Pavelksi said:

“It’s two games in, we’re not panicking by any means but we need results and that’s on us as players. We’ve been given something that we know inside out and the commitment to do it has to be there. There’s just too many odd man rushes, a few too many battles that we lose and we’re not getting those second chances. So there’s just a commitment level that has to go up and doing it the right way.”

That described the game quite accurately. Logan Couture’s comments were more sweeping:

“That was just horrible. You can’t make excuses because that was a very very poor effort. From the first minute to the sixtieth minute, from power play to penalty kill. That was just garbage hockey.”

For Los Angeles, two goals came from Anze Kopitar, one from Dustin Brown and one from Nick Shore. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 24 saves on 25 shots. The lone goal for the Sharks came from Mikkel Boedker, while Martin Jones made 25 saves on 29 shots and backup Aaron Dell made 9 saves. It is worth noting that Sharks forward Melker Karlsson took a hit during the second period and did not skate during the third.

Martin Jones started out looking like he might have a better game than he did. As the team struggled to get a shot on goal, the goaltender made a fine save near the four minute mark after the Kings stormed into the zone three on one. The Kings seemed to get more energy from that than the Sharks did and two minutes later the Sharks had a shot on goal but the Kings had a goal. Dustin Brown’s bad angle shot went over Jones’ shoulder through an opening that probably should not have been there. An assist went to Anze Kopitar.

That did spark the Sharks and just 1:06 later, Mikkel Boedker put the Sharks’ second shot past Jonathan Quick. Assists went to Brenden Dillon and Dylan DeMelo.

After a skirmish in the corner behind the Kings goal line at 8:31, Kurtis MacDermid was called for roughing. The Sharks added just one shot to their tally during that power play.

Logan Couture was called for tripping at 11:29, and the Sharks killed the penalty. Tomas Hertl took the next penalty, for hooking. The Sharks killed that one off as well, but as the seconds wound down, the Kings kept the pressure on. A regrettable line change gave Kopitar an opening to skate in nearly unfettered. He did not waste the opportunity and scored with just 8 seconds to go. The period ended with the score 2-1 Kings, with the shots an ominous 17-6 for Los Angeles.

5:57 into the second, the Sharks were on the penalty kill after Brenden Dillon high-sticked Kopitar. The Sharks killed the penalty off and were rewarded with a power play of their own at 8:34. It did not amount to much, and was riddled with bad takeaways by the Los Angeles penalty killers.

At 12:07 the game went from bad to worse as a shot got through to Jones and bounced over him to sit momentarily in the blue paint. No Shark was there to prevent Kopitar from tucking it over the line.

There were plenty of teal sweaters around the Sharks net when the next goal went in. Jones seemed to catch a long bouncing shot in his glove, but the puck instead bounced out and pinballed around and into the net to make it 4-1. The goal was awarded to Nick Shore. Aaron Dell came into the game to replace Martin Jones.

By the end of the second period, the score was 4-1, with the shot count still an abysmal 32-18 Los Angeles.

The third period provided little redemption for the Sharks. They did not give up any more goals, but the Kings did not look very motivated to increase the three goal lead. The Sharks killed three more penalties, while the Kings killed two. The Sharks pulled their goaltender with three minutes to go but it did not change the score.

The Sharks next play on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 PM PT.

Stanley Cup Final: New York Rangers Hang On to Win Game 4

By Mary Walsh

The New York Rangers saved themselves from a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings with a little luck and a lot of persistence. As usual, the Rangers took the early lead, but finally they were able to hold on to it for a 2-1 win. The third period was more harrowing than any we have seen so far in this series, with the Rangers managing only one shot on goal to the Comeback Kings’ 15. After the game, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was asked about that third period:

It was a battle, the whole game. When they turn it up, you need to rely on your teammates and some luck. We’ve been talking about it all series: to beat this team, you need some sort of puck luck and we definitely had it tonight.

The win set a new NHL record, as the Rangers are now 8-0 in elimination games at home since 2008. Lundqvist has been in net for all of those wins.

Wednesday, Lundqvist made 40 saves on 41 shots. At the other end, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick only faced 19 shots and gave up two goals. It was a reversal from Game 3, where the overworked Quick stood on his head for the win and Lundqvist couldn’t catch a break despite seeing far fewer shots. After the game, Lundqvist talked about the team’s mindset:

Whatever happens, we’re winning this game. We’re not losing two at home. We want to get back in this series… it’s not impossible, they’ve done it, we came back from 3-1, but you need to be so smart playing against this team. They’re good and they almost trick you sometimes, you think you have under control and they make a couple of quick plays and create something out of basically nothing.

The Kings were the faster team out of the gate. After five minutes, the Kings had three shots on goal, the Rangers none. The Rangers’ first shot had promise, with Rick Nash going to the net. Derrick Stepan’s shot from the half wall went off of Drew Doughty’s stick and fluttered into Jonathan Quick for a whistle.

A few moments later, the Kings took the game’s first penalty. The Rangers’ power play was very controlled, though they took shots with caution. The strategy did at least keep the puck away from the Kings, but it was almost a minute before the Rangers had a good chance, only to be thwarted by Quick.

The penalty had just expired when New York’s Benoit Pouliot scored with deflected a shot from John Moore at the blue line.

The Kings’ first power play came from a delay of game call, when Anze Kopitar pressured Mats Zuccarello into throwing the puck over the glass. The Kings’ best chance came early in the power play, when a puck crept by Lundvquist but Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman got his stick behind it and swept it out, despite having to compete with Jeff Carter, who was trying to push the puck over the line.

It was a good thing the Rangers scored when they did, because for the last 11+ minutes of the first, their triggers were malfunctioning. They got credit for no shots in the second half of the period. The Kings, meanwhile, kept Lundqvist moderately busy, but they did not beat him in the first.

Over seven minutes and a bundle of penalties had gone in the second when the Rangers stretched their lead to two. A fast zone entry by the Rangers ended with a shot from Derek Stepan that fluttered off of Quick, to be put away by Marty St. Louis.

That got the house jumping, and a little extra zip in the Rangers’ step earned them another power play. The Kings threw themselves into the penalty kill and took a couple of short-handed shots, without straying too far from their own blue line. Lundqvist handled those neatly.

Once the Kings killed off that penalty, they started to chip away at the Rangers’ lead. Kings captain Dustin Brown got by Dan Girardi at the Kings blue line, thanks to a broken stick for Girardi. He was able to carry the puck in mostly unmolested, and beat Lundqvist with a late shot.

That goal seemed to open the floodgates for the Kings. The next few minutes showed the Rangers facing onslaught after onslaught from Kings’ forecheckers. The Rangers did manage to hold the zone finally around the 12 minute mark, and generate a few chances before the puck went out of play.

The Kings then found themselves being pretty effectively ejected from the Rangers’ zone, and were limited to one and dones, while the Rangers at least held the offensive zone for longer than one shot. The Kings’ 70s line of Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter broke that pattern and maintained steady pressure against the Rangers, controlling the puck and peppering Lundqvist with shots. The Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dwight King line followed up by drawing a penalty that put Dominic Moore in the box for cross-checking.

The penalty kill was made more challenging by another broken stick, this time for Rick Nash. A shot deflected out of play and stopped play before that became much of an issue. After 90 seconds, the Kings’ power play only had one shot on goal. Nash and Stepan were able to kill some time with a short-handed foray to end the penalty kill.

The Rangers missed an opportunity when Quick went behind the net and got tangled up in traffic. The Kings burrowed in and made a shot impossible for the Rangers. Right after that, Jeff Carter broke away in the last minute but this time Lundqvist won the one-on-one contest to keep the Rangers ahead.

The period ended with Los Angeles leading in shots 26-17, 15-11 for the period.

The Kings did not slow down in the third, but the Rangers did not lie down either. Henrik Lundvist had to make some tough saves through traffic in the first ten minutes. One shot from Tyler Toffoli looked dangerous, and it was an expensive shot for the Kings. Marian Gaborik was flattened by Rick Nash behind the net, after getting the puck out to Toffoli.

The Rangers seemed to be repeating the Kings’ third from the last game, clinging to the one goal lead by the skin of their teeth. In the last minutes, Derek Stepan saved a goal by pushing the puck under his goalie with a glove. The referee was in good position to verify that Stepan did not close his hand over the puck.

The Kings pulled Quick in the last 1:11, and an empty net shot from the Rangers’ zone by Brian Boyle went just wide. It didn’t matter, the Rangers held on for the last minute despite some mad scrambles in front of Lundqvist.

Asked whether the team felt like the puck was finally bouncing in their favor, Dominic Moore said:

Definitely when the puck lays on the goal line and doesn’t cross you feel a bit fortunate. But personally I feel like you can’t really think about breaks going one way or the other, you just got to continue to earn your breaks. Hopefully … tonight’s something we can build off in terms of doing some things well and we’ll see what happens next game.

Ryan McDonagh led the Rangers in time on ice with 28:10. Martin St. Louis, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan each took three shots, and no Ranger took more. Dan Girardi blocked six shots for the team lead. Dominic Moore was the best Ranger in the faceoff circle at 47%.

Tanner Pearson led the Kings in shots with eight. Jake Muzzin led the team with five blocked shots, and Drew Doughty led the team in minutes with 26:45. Justin Williams was pointless for the first time in five games.

Game 5 will be played in Los Angeles on Friday at 5 pm PT.