Sharks Lose to Kings, Hockey Wins at Levi’s Stadium

By Mary Walsh

SANTA CLARA– The San Jose Sharks were defeated by the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in the NHL’s 2015 Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The Sharks’ Joe Pavelski summarized his team’s disappointment over the loss: “You want to push towards that second season and right now we’re not there. There’s nothing given to us and we gotta go earn it.”

While the game was very important for the standings points, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was not disappointed with his team:

We were disappointed in the outcome. I’m not disappointed in the effort and what our group put into the game. We would have preferred to win. It was a hard-fought game by two good teams that played a pretty even match. So the outcome is very disappointing, but everything else we’re proud of. I think our city and Northern California has to be extremely proud. You take Mr. Gund 25 years ago had a vision of bringing a team here, and brought it here, and a quarter century later we’re playing an outdoor game with 72,000 people in a brand-new football stadium. Who would have ever thought that could happen?

“We’re still not even close to being secure in a playoff spot, we have a lot of work left to do.” That was Drew Doughty after the game, but it would have been a true statement from a player on either team in Saturday night’s game. This is what made the game so important to both teams– the race for a playoff spot in the west will be a dog fight for the rest of the season. Calgary and Vancouver are crowding the top of the Pacific Division behind the Ducks. The wild card slots are over subscribed with Winnipeg and now Minnesota pressing. No contending team is secure or is likely to be until the last buzzer goes.

If the Los Angeles Kings wanted to ruin the Sharks’ big party in Santa Clara, they made a good start of it. Just 2:46 into the first period, a Jake Muzzin shot from the blue line went by Niemi on the short side. It was tipped by Kyle Clifford and it was deflating for the 709,000 plus stadium crowd.

Near the seven minute mark, the Kings drew a penalty from Brenden Dillon for holding. The call was delayed and the Kings took advantage of the extra time to make the Sharks look harried. It took the Sharks several seconds to finally touch the puck and get a whistle. The Sharks’ had a tv break to regain their composure and their penalty kill came out looking more settled. They evicted the Kings from the zone several times before the power play ended.

The Sharks had less success at five on five and by 13:30 of the first, the Sharks were trapped in their own end and counting on Niemi and luck to keep the puck out of their net. The shot clock read 9-3 Los Angeles.

Near the sixteen minute mark, John Scott corralled the puck and carried it through the neutral zone where he, Joe Thornton and Melker Karlsson made things interesting for Jonathan Quick. It was the crowd’s first reason to cheer in a while.

They had another chance with just over a minute left. the sharks had been creeping back on the shot clock when, right off an offensive zone draw, Brent Burns took the puck, skated a little and shot it from the half-boards to tie the game. The assist went to Tommy Wingels.

By the end of the first, the Kings were still leading in shots but just barely. The Sharks had pushed all the way back to 12-10, holding the Kings to just three shots in the last seven minutes of the period.

The Sharks started the second period where they left off in the first. They caught and passed the Kings in shots, though both teams were hanging back a little, keeping extra bodies by the blue lines to compensate for some pretty rough ice. Even from the press booth (way up high) you could see how not smooth the zamboni left the ice during intermission. There were no puddles but the puck’s trajectory vaguely resembled that of a bumble bee.

At 7:24, Robyn Regehr went to the box for hooking, giving the Sharks their first power play of the night. The Kings could not get the puck out for more than a minute, but aside from an early sequence featuring exceptional saves by Quick, the power play generated nothing concrete.

The Kings had another power play at 13:06 of the second, when Matt Irwin went to the box for hooking Kyle Clifford in front of the San Jose net. The kings held the zone for over a minute too, and one shot by Jamie McBain from the blue line looked pretty dangerous but beyond that the Sharks handled the Kings’ power play well.

The Sharks had their second chance on the power play soon after, when Jake Muzzin went to the box for delay of game after sending the puck over the glass. This Sharks power play was less sharp. The Kings sent them out, chasing the puck into their own zone, then Quick’s net came off its moorings and the power play minutes were eaten up fruitlessly. A few too many passes were attempted in hostile conditions. The only things that seemed to get through were some hard blasts from the slot.

By the end of the period, the Sharks were ahead in shots 25-18 but the game was still tied at one.

The Kings came out strong in the third, with an early shot going through Niemi but just wide. That may have given the Sharks a scare because they did push the game the other way in the minutes after that. But it was the Kings who scored next.

Marion Gaborik used a hard shot from the slot to beat Niemi. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was trying to come across to stop him but at least two Sharks were caught flat-footed and watched Gaborik go by. Jeff Carter got an assist on the goal.

At the midpoint of the third, Joe Thornton drew a tripping penalty from Dustin Brown. The teams were tied at 26 shots each, and neither team had scored on the power play. The Sharks’ third power play was their least effective of the game. They tried too many passes and took too few shots.

The Sharks were unable to tie the game up again and the final score was 2-1 Kings. The Sharks won 33 faceoffs to the Kings’ 31. The Sharks had three power plays to the Kings two, both teams had perfect penalty kills. The hits were 45-49 Sharks, the shots blocked 18-14 Kings. The biggest imbalance in the game was in giveaways (18-7 Sharks) and takeaways (13-5 Sharks), though those stats really should balance each other out. Perhaps not, in a game that requires more simplification than anything else.

The Sharks’ lines looked a little different on Saturday, with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau reunited on a line, with Melker Karlsson as the third member. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels formed the other half of the top six. Tomas Hertl, James Sheppard and Matt Nieto formed the third line, and John Scott, Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins forming the fourth line.

Tommy Wingels led the Sharks in hits with 11, while six Sharks had four each. Brent Burns led the team in shots with six. Antti Niemi made 27 saves on 29 shots faced.

Drew Doughty led the Kings in shots, Trevor Lewis led the team in hits with six. Jonathan Quick made 31 saves on 32 shots for the win.

The Sharks next play on Thursday at SAP Center against the Detroit Red Wings.

Stanley Cup Final: Kings Win in Double OT, Lead Series 2-0

By Mary Walsh

The Los Angeles Kings took a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. They took their first lead of the game and won more than ten minutes in to double overtime. A Willie Mitchell shot, the game winner was redirected by Dustin Brown.

It was Mitchell’s second point of the game. After the game he said:

I don’t know, we’ve been digging ourselves holes here lately, but our resiliency… We find a way to dig deep and that’s something you just can’t re-create.

The Kings seem to be re-creating it with some proficiency. They have a thing for allowing two goals early and coming back to win anyway. Saturday, they had to recover from three two-goal deficits, twice cutting the deficit to one and finally tying the game in the third period at 4-4.

This is the first time in Stanley Cup history that the first two games of the Final have gone to overtime three seasons in a row.

For their part, the Rangers played valiantly, pushing the Kings back again and again, but they never could stretch the lead past two goals, or hold any of their leads for long enough. Rick Nash, who needs to score, gave it a good shot. Eight shots, actually, leading the Rangers in shots on goal.

Jonathan Quick made 33 saves for the win, Henrik Lundqvist made 39 saves for the Rangers.

The first period was rough and tumble. Kings forward Jeff Carter got tangled up in a hip check from Ryan McDonagh, which sent him briefly to the Kings’ dressing room. As soon as Carter got back to the bench, Jarret Stoll put Rangers’ forward Dan Girardi into the boards and Girardi left the game for a bit with a right hand injury. He was not gone for long. That all happened in the first half of the period.

The Rangers had the first power play of the game 7:58 in, when Marion Gaborik was called for tripping. The Rangers started very well and got credit for a couple of shots, but could not convert against the aggressive Kings penalty killers. Those penalty killers also found a short-handed chance, as is their habit.

It was just a few seconds after the penalty expired that the Rangers took advantage of a turnover by the Kings’ Justin Williams. Dominic Moore sent the puck up to Ryan McDonagh at the point. He wasted no time and fired the puck in before Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick knew what was coming.

With just under five minutes left in the period, McDonagh went to the box for cross checking Kings captain Dustin Brown. The Kings only managed one shot during the power play. Despite a good chance after the penalty expired (thwarted by a snappy glove save from Lundqvist), the Kings found themselves in another two goal hole before the period ended.

The second goal came from a scramble in the Kings’ end. Derick Brassard got the puck behind the net, sent it up to McDonagh, whose shot went off of Quick to Mats Zuccarello. He was waiting at the corner of the net, and gently tapped it in.

Unlike the last game, the Kings did not get one back before the period ended. The shots after the first were almost even at 10-9 for New York.

The Kings wasted no time with their comeback in the second. At 1:46, the Kings took advantage of a turnover from Brad Richards. Dwight King sent the puck to the slot where Justin Williams was ready to shoot and go to the net, and then pick up his own rebound. He controlled the rebound and passed it back to Jarret Stoll, who found Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist out of position and cut the Rangers’ lead in half.

 

Just past the ten minute mark of the second, the Kings took a too many men penalty. The Kings did a good job of pushing the Rangers out of their zone, but the Rangers made good use of a fast entry, a two on one of Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan. Stepan set up St. Louis for a nice shot from the circle to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

The Kings got another power play when Mats Zuccarello swept Dustin Brown’s leg out from under him. It took them a while to get set up  but Willie Mitchell made good use of traffic in front of Lundqvist to score from the blue line.

The Rangers only let that stand for 11 seconds. A faceoff win and a slick forecheck caused havoc in the Kings’ zone. Quick went to move the puck then tried to leave it for defenseman Willie Mitchell. When the puck bounced over Mitchell’s stick, Mats Zuccarello was right behind him to pounce on it. Zuccarello had barely moved the puck ahead of the goal line when Brassard snapped  it in to restore the two goal lead.

It was the quickest two goals in a Stanley Cup Final in 67 years.

The period ended with the shots slightly favoring the Rangers 22-20.

The Kings scored early in the third period, a goal that had Lundqvist verbalizing his objections. Dwight King fell on the Rangers’ goalie just before the puck went in. It could be argued that he was pushed over by the Rangers’ defenseman, but he was not pushed in to Lundqvist, and was in fact in the blue paint behind Lundqvist and McDonagh before he fell.

In any case, King got the goal with assists to Matt Greene and Justin Williams.

The next few minutes were marked by oddly symmetrical back and forth play. In the seventh minute of the period, the Kings finally held the zone for long enough to put some pressure on the Rangers. Even after a timeout, the Rangers had trouble getting in to the Kings’ zone. A failed clear at the Rangers’ blue line, followed by McDonagh losing his footing near the net, and the Kings had the Rangers outnumbered in front of their net. Marian Gaborik tied the game with his 13th goal of the playoffs.

The Kings did not score in the first two minutes of the next period. On the contrary, the Rangers had the Kings trapped in their own zone five minutes in, forcing the Kings to use their timeout after an icing. The game picked up again after that with both sides trading chances.

One second over the half way mark, Dominic Moore was called for catching Jeff Carter in the face with his stick. The high sticking penalty had the potential to be a heartbreaker. Instead, the Rangers held the Kings off until Rick Nash could sell a convincing interference penalty that put Justin Williams in the box and evened things up for about 30 seconds.

With their own man advantage, the Rangers had no better luck, on that power play or the next that came when Jeff Carter ran into Lundqvist behind the net. There was some concern about Lundqvist’s fitness to continue but he stayed in and seemed no worse for wear.

The first OT period ended without any resolution to the game. The second OT period lasted for ten minutes and was penalty-free. Anze Kopitar won a defensive zone faceoff for the Kings, Slava Voynov took the puck out. Kopitar controlled the puck near the Rangers’ faceoff circle, then sent the puck up to Willie Mitchell at the point. Mitchell’s shot went in between Gaborik and Brown, allowing Brown to tip it past Lundqvist.

The teams meet again in New York, on Monday at 5:00 pm PT.