By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE- Sunday, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Quarter Finals. The game winner was scored by Justin Braun, Antti Niemi made 24 saves for the Sharks, and Jonathan Quick made 33 saves for the Kings on 40 San Jose Shots. Though the Kings scored first, the Sharks’ dominance through the second two periods was a repeat of an unexpectedly dominant Game One victory.
After the game, Mike Brown said:
Games like this, you don’t stop playing, you don’t give up. That’s how the whole series is going to go and you see what happened when we didn’t stop.
We’re planning on low-scoring games and we gotta play solid defensively. So we can’t really look at these two games and think that the series is gonna go this way.
After a 6-3 victory in Game One series, everyone knew that the Sharks would not have to navigate the mental burden of a five goal lead again. It turns out that everyone was wrong. The Sharks defeated the Kings Sunday by a score of 7-2, scoring seven unanswered goals in the second and third periods. They not only took the five goal lead, they held it until the end of the game.
Talking after the game, Sharks captain Joe Thornton summed up the Sharks’ success thus far:
To do that two games in a row… We’ve been working hard for our goals, and the fourth line just brought this game back in grip for us. But scoring seven tonight… it was… was just a weird night.
That fourth line was the clutch factor in the game. The combination of Andrew Desjardins, Raffi Torres and Mike Brown scored the first two Sharks goals of the game, bringing the Sharks back from a deficit to a tie game in the space of five minutes. After the game, Logan Couture said of the trio:
They got us going, they generate a lot of energy in the building, a lot of energy on our bench. You can tell when they’re out there that they’re going to forecheck hard and if I was a d-man I’d be scared of those guys bearing down on me all the time. So they’ve done a great job in this series.
The Kings opened the scoring under two minutes in. A Jake Muzzin shot from the point went past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with some help from a screen set up by Marian Gaborik. Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar were awarded the assists.
The Sharks responded with a good chance of their own but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had time and space to see the shots and stop them.
After an extended spell in their own zone, and numerous takeaways for both teams, the Kings struck again. Kings forward Jeff Carter got the puck away from Sharks defenseman Jason Demers and sent it in front of the net where Trevor Lewis tapped it in the far corner. Carter got credit for the lone assist.
By the half way point of the first period, the shots favored the Sharks 10-6, but the score was all Kings, 2-0.
One of the Sharks’ better shifts came from an offensive zone attack that included Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels and Scott Hannan, with about six minutes left in the first. As the shot clock indicated, the other lines were spending time in the Kings’ zone but they did not make life very uncomfortable for Quick. Many of their shots were completely unscreened.
Mike Brown gave the fans something to cheer about with some solid hits in the final four minutes, and the Thornton line joined in with a scrum in front of the Kings’ crease. Two penalties came out of that: two minutes each for roughing to Slava Voynov and Brent Burns.
The Sharks ended the first period with a two-goal deficit and a reduced lead in shots, with 15 to the Kings’ 10.
Early in the second period, Tomas Hertl took the ice with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, after taking a shift with Burns and Desjardins moments earlier.
That did not seem to do much, but the Sharks avoided being scored on for almost five minutes, then reversed the dismal trend with a goal of their own. It was Mike Brown’s first playoff goal. Andrew Desjardins centered a pass that found Brown skating into the Kings’ zone. Brown’s shot beat Quick fair and square from the slot.
Moments later, the Sharks got their first power play of the game. That produced a few good chances but did not add to the scoresheet.
It was near the half-way mark of the game when Raffi Torres scored his second of the series. After skating through traffic alongside Desjardins, he found an opening and tied the game. Assist to Andrew Desjardins.
About a minute later, Los Angeles got their first power play after Jason Demers was called for charging. It took the Sharks over 90 seconds to clear the puck for the first time in that penalty kill, but when they did they were rewarded by some inattention from the Kings that lead to an icing. With under 20 seconds left in the penalty the faceoff was in the Kings’ end. That was that and both teams remained perfect on the penalty kill.
The Sharks kept the pressure on. With 5:15 left in the period, James Sheppard won the puck along the boards and put it on net from a bad angle. The rebound went to the wall and Justin Braun, who shot it back in from the point. His hard shot flew by Tommy Wingels and Jonathan Quick to give the Sharks their first lead of the game. Assists went to Sheppard and Pavelski.
The Kings took a third penalty to finish the second, putting the Sharks on the power play to end the middle frame. It was an uninspiring power play, with the Kings ejecting the Sharks very effectively from their zone more than once before San Jose could get set up.
The period ended with shots 27-17 and the score 3-2 Sharks.
Tomas Hertl stayed on the Thornton line, with Pavelski playing third line center. The next goal did not come from either of those lines. The Sharks’ fourth goal came off a brilliant rush from the second line at 1:08 of the period. Matt Nieto centered the puck perfectly for Patrick Marleau who carried it as far as the opposite faceoff circle to put it by Jonathan Quick. Nieto and Logan Couture got the assists.
A nice neutral zone poke check from Scott Hannan started the next rush, sending the puck in for James Sheppard. Sheppard and the third line held the zone well, but it took a second neutral zone takeaway and another rush to put the Sharks up by three. Joe Pavelski scored that, after Dan Boyle got the puck to him at the Kings’ blue line. The Kings were in the middle of a line change when Boyle snatched away that puck. Assists to Boyle and Wingels.
At 11:42 of the period, Marleau carried the puck in along the wall and passed it to Couture. Couture skated around two Los Angeles defenders to beat and unscreened Quick, who was moving across the crease.
6-2 Sharks. Assists to Marleau and Nieto.
A scrum at the Kings’ net resulted in a few penalties being doled out. Four minutes to LA for roughing, and two to San Jose for roughing. The offenders were Kings defenseman Matt Greene and Sharks’ forward Raffi Torres. Once again on the power play, the Sharks would not score in the five on four advantage, but just 30 seconds in to that penalty, Jarret Stoll gave the Sharks a two man advantage by high-sticking Joe Thornton and going to the box for two minutes.
After some nice passing around the perimeter, Thornton was left holding the puck in the right faceoff circle, with just Jonathan Quick between him and the Sharks’ seventh goal.
7-2 Sharks. The seventh goal assists went to Pavelski and Boyle. It was the Sharks’ first power play goal of the game.
With just over five minutes left, more hostilities broke out, sending several players to the locker room early and putting the Sharks on the power play again. For LA, Kyle Clifford got two minutes for roughing and a ten minute misconduct, Dustin Brown got a ten minute misconduct. For San Jose, Desjardins received a ten minute misconduct and Mike Brown got the same. Finally, the Kings’ Mike Richards went to the box for four minutes, confined for spearing.
As expected, Todd McLellan did not alter his lineup for Game Two from the group that won Game One. The scratches were Martin Havlat, Tyler Kennedy, Bracken Kearns, Matt Irwin and Adam Burish. He did exercise his right of misdirection by putting Havlat out for warmups but that was all we saw of Number 9 on Sunday.
The Sharks and the Kings meet for Game Three on Tuesday in Los Angeles.