(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The San Jose Sharks came in to LA with a sweep of the Canucks in hand and close to seven days off. They left with 35 shots on goal and not a one making it past Jonathan Quick, who recorded his second shutout of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, his last one coming against St Louis in game 3 on May 5th. Kings’ Defenceman Slava Voynov continued his impressive playoff contributions, netting a late goal in the 1st period from the right point that Niemi couldn’t reach. It was nearly a repeat performance in the 2nd period where a drive from the point by Voynov, off a feed from Jeff Carter was tipped in by Mike Richards, beating the Sharks Netminder, and sealing the fate for San Jose.
The Sharks came out of the gates ready to play and dominated the Kings during much of the opening period. San Jose took their first power play of the game on an interference call on Muzzin at 5:23. It was their cleanest power play of the game, with the Sharks solidly controlling the puck and generating chances in front of the net. Quick would turn aside all of them as San Jose continued to pour on the pressure. With only 12 seconds remaining in the first period, the Sharks would faceoff in the LA zone, win it cleanly but no one in teal was home as Mike Richards jumped in to gather the loose puck. Matt Irwin stepped in at the blueline slowing Richards but leaving the puck behind for Voynov to swoop in and fire one past Niemi putting the Kings up 1-0 heading into the 2nd period.
Los Angeles began to turn up the heat in the second and the Sharks struggled to generate momentum through the neutral zone, the Kings taking away the little space San Jose tried to carve out with an aggressive backcheck. The Sharks resorted to dumping the puck into the offensive zone in an attempt to get pucks to the net, but the Kings backend of Toffoli, Voynov, Martinez and Regehr were quick to tie up Sharks forwards Couture, Marleau and Pavelski and keep San Jose off the scoreboard. The Sharks would go on the power play for the second time when Anze Kopitar tied up Brent Burns on a hooking call. The Kings penalty killers made short work of San Jose’s man advantage, with the Sharks failing to score. Halfway through the second period, the Kings would score again as Mike Richards tipped in a rocket from the right point from Slava Voynov, putting the Sharks in a 2 goal deficit for the first time during the playoffs.
The 3rd period of play brought a more aggressive push from the Sharks, who outshot the Kings 16-4, but Quick remained solid between the pipes despite the heavy traffic around the blue paint and one more power play opportunity for San Jose.
The Sharks next meet LA on Thursday and some loose ends will need to be addressed if San Jose expects to make a run against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Can San Jose solve the Quick riddle?