Sharks suffer their worst playoffs exit yet

By Ivan Makarov

SAN JOSE, CA — After many years of Stanley Cup playoffs disappointments, San Jose Sharks found a new way to end their season after making the playoffs once again.

After going up 3-0 in the series against the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks let the Kings climb back and take the series in Game 7, when LA won the game 5-1 at the SAP Center. LA Kings became just the fourth team in the NHL history to accomplish such a feat since the 7-game series format was introduced for the Stanley Cup playoffs back in the 1930s.

Devastated. Disappointed. Shocked. Upset. Low point.

These were some of the words heard again and again in post game interviews inside the Sharks dressing room. These are no doubt some of the emotions experienced by the Sharks fans as well that night.

And the Game 7 played out just like the previous four games won by the Kings. Stingy defense by LA, and a complete lack of offense and execution by San Jose, coupled with the outstanding game by Jonathan Quick.

Sharks scored the first goal in the game when Matt Irwin blasted a shot from the blue line early in the second period. But their lead did not last long as Kings tied the game four minutes later on a power play goal by Drew Doughty and played a solid defensive game for the remainder of the period. The big blow came towards the end of the period when Kings took 2-1 lead on a counter attack goal by Anze Kopitar.

When the Kings made it 3-1 on a goal by Tyler Toffolli early in the third period on an odd man rush, the home crowd loudly exhaled, knowing how hard the task became at hand. And the Sharks never came back, failing to score the rest of the game.

After scoring 17 goals in the first three games, Sharks scored only 5 in the remaining four. That’s the most telling stat of them all.

Special teams were once again terrible for the Sharks, giving up a power play goal, and going 0/6 on the man advantage.

So how did this all happen after going up 3-0 in the series and what happened to the offense?

“I think their defense just swallowed up our offense, to be honest with you,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton. “They played real tight defensively, and their goaltender got really hot like he usually does this time of the year.”

Coach McLellan had similar thoughts.

“From the way I look at it, [the LA] fixed their problems,” he said after the game. “We didn’t. Our problems got progressively worse as we went along. We were awful off the rush. They scored I don’t know how many goals off the rush and we were awful around our net. Every day we came to the rink, we tried the stress that, but we were never able to fix that. It’s frustrating because during the year we’re pretty good in those areas.”

It’s hard to predict right now what changes the club is going to make in the offseason after another good regular season team ends their season early and without a championship. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson job could be in danger, as he’s built every aspect of this team and still haven’t taken the Sharks into the Stanley Cup final while his neighbors Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have all been there and have won the Cup. Todd McLellan’s future is also in question now, and he did admit after the game he’s in charge of this team and is to blame as well. Some of the players will no doubt change their home address to another NHL city.

These things happen to the teams that can’t win. But this win in particular will sting for a long time because of how close the Sharks were to advancing into the next round, and how far they let their game slip.

Sharks’s OT win breaks Kings’ home playoff win streak

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

By Pearl Allison Lo

LOS ANGELES– Patrick Marleau scored his third playoff goal in Game 3 of this series to lead San Jose to a 3-0 series advantage with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday.

Up until the Sharks’ win, the Kings had won all of their playoff games at home since June 11, 2012.

Besides two straight Los Angeles goals, the scoring went back and forth.

Marleau was aided by Scott Hannan at 6:20 in this much tighter game than the previous two. The goal was their only shot in overtime. Goalie Antti Niemi is now 12-2 in OT careerwise in the playoffs.

Teammate Logan Couture commented on overtime, “…they really took it to us for the first five minutes of that overtime, then we got a lucky bounce and that’s the way things go sometimes.”

On their second shot of the game and 11 seconds into their power play, San Jose’s Brent Burns scored at 3:16 of the first, helped by Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle.

The shot on goal margin for the Kings increased to 7-2, but they could not get the puck in the right spot.

The Sharks paid for a puck over the glass penalty by Jason Demers at 3:23 of the second. Los Angeles’s Tyler Toffoli was able to pass the puck just past Tommy Wingels, and Jarret Stoll shot right away to even the game at 1-1 at 4:48. Drew Doughty also assisted on the play.

The Kings’ Marian Gaborik then single-handedly intercepted one of the passes on his teams’ side and turned it into a 3 on 2 man advantage and goal at 7:59 for the 2-1 lead.

It was short-lived though. Marleau fished the puck out from alongside the boards and passed it to Jason Demers near the blue line. Demers then aimed at the net and Long Beach native Matt Nieto tipped in the puck, to even the game back up at two at 9:17. It was Nieto’s first career playoff goal.

Los Angeles got their fourth power play when James Sheppard was called for tripping. San Jose put the puck over the glass again, but the referees did not make the call.

The other half of Sheppard’s power play continued in the third. Seven seconds before it expired, Jeff Carter had a tip-in from Anze Kopitar and Doughty.

It took more than two power play opportunities following that goal, but three seconds after the second one at 9:17, Sharks’ rookie Tomas Hertl put the loose puck in, persisting several times after it went off goalie Jonathan Quick. Overall in the period, San Jose outshot the Kings 23-8. Hertl was aided by Wingels and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter said, “It’s a tough field, and we won’t go away quietly.”

Game notes: The Sharks go for the sweep at Staples Thursday at 7:30pm.

Sharks edge out the Kings in the shootout

By Ivan Makarov

Before the game on Wednesday night, San Jose Sharks and LA Kings were tied for points in the Pacific Division, both at 35. Neither team showed much of an edge over their opponent in this even match up, but the Sharks went on to win it in what was one of the most entertaining shootouts in their history.

It took eight rounds of  attempts to determine the winner. Prior to the game, only Logan Couture scored for the Sharks in the shootout all season. This time Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton all successfully finished their attempts, but it took a while to determine the winner, as Kings had three of their players score in a shootout too. In the end, it was Thornton’s backhand goal and Niemi’s subsequent pad save that secured the Sharks the extra point and put them in the lead in the Pacific Division.

“I was begging coach to look my way [laughs],” said Thornton after the game. “It was nice to be involved in one. Down in their building it’s a one-goal game, tonight another one-goal game. Both teams compete hard against each other and you knew it was going to come down to overtime or the shootout and it did. We were just happy with the two points.”

And just like in the shootout, both teams traded goals and leads back and forth throughout the regulation.

Sharks started their game at a goal disadvantage early on, as Kings scored just 18 seconds into it. LA had the possession inside the San Jose zone, and Dwight King passed the puck off the boards behind Antti Niemi. The puck bounced right back into the crease, with Sharks’ defenseman Scott Hannan unable to clear it. Kings’ Jeff Carter was right there, and shot the puck into the net for his sixth goal of the season.

Sharks dominated the remainder of the first period, winning the shot battle 18-8, but still trailing, with Kings’ goaltender Ben Scrivens taking the most credit for that outcome.

Sharks finally solved him in the second period. Joe Pavelski tied the game early with the ninth goal of the season, winning the battle for the lose puck near the crease and lifting it to the top of the goal.

Joe Thornton helped the Sharks take their first lead of the game with his third goal of the season towards the end of the second period. It was an odd one – he was behind the net with the puck, and sent it towards the crease area, but it bounced into the Kings’ goaltender Ben Scrivens pads and back into the net.

Kings tied the game back in the first half of the third period to make it an even 2-2. The puck went in after Drew Doughty shot the puck towards the net, and it changed direction as it hit Sharks’ Scott Hannan’s skate. Both teams skated well in overtime, but it all came down to the skills competition to determine the winner.

Sharks will be back in action on Friday, as they host St Louis Blues for an early 1pm puck drop.

Happy Thanksgiving!