SAN JOSE—A power outage didn’t take the power away from the Sharks handling of Los Angeles on the ice. A massive five goal run through two periods ended with a short stint from the Kings making little effect on the outcome, as the Sharks took game 1 by a 6-3 score at SAP Center on Thursday night.
Before the game could get underway, a power outage blacked out the arena prior to warm ups; this delayed the start of the game for 40 minutes to insure time to perform the warm up. With the Sharks holding a higher seed against their hated southern rivals, playing tough against them in this series would need to show. One person who knew the team’s history is Captain Joe Thornton, who made the first goal three minutes into the first period. He took a backhanded shot from behind the net where Kings netminder Jonathan Quick had all focus and got the puck to go off teammate Joe Pavelski to take the lead.
After that mistake, Quick no longer made mistakes as he recovered big with saves during the Sharks power play; a shorthanded opportunity that he put to rest fast. The Sharks pulled at every chance on the ice they could get gaining hold of the puck in the late part of the period. It made a difference to the score in the final minute where Tomas Hertl scored his first postseason goal on a short wrister from James Sheppard’s drive to the crease. Patrick Marleau joined the rookie on the score sheet with a 2 on 1 pass play with Matt Nieto to give him the tip in goal and leading 3-0.
The Kings thought they could recover at the start of the second, as they finally took a great scoring chance at Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. The stellar defense from Niemi in the post season shined on denying their opportunity. It led to San Jose playing a strong defense tiring out the Kings in the process. The fatigued Kings had to deal with the Sharks rekindling their offense 12 minutes in where the score took another bad look in the face ofLos Angeles.
Raffi Torres scored on a Marc-Edouard Vlassic shot that went off the post and took center stage to Torres for the fourth goal of the night. The defenseman eventually gained credit for a goal four minutes later, while commanding a 5 on 3 power play. It decimated the Kings as they frantically scrambled to put a tight coverage together on the Sharks scoring chances. The defense along with the fans chanting “Beat LA” continued to dominate the game. With 22 seconds on the last of their advantage, Vlassic fired the puck through the legs of Quick to make it a 5-0 rout.
It was clear that Quick couldn’t continue a bashing like this and was taken out of the game before the start of the third. Martin Jones came in and seemed to be ready for anything the Sharks could throw at him. The 24-year-old defeated this same team during his impeccable eight-game winning streak back in December. With a five goal gap, his team would have to do the hard work through 20 minutes of play.
The Kings got things going two minutes into the third. Jake Muzzin shot near the faceoff dot to end any chance of Niemi recording a postseason shutout; something he hasn’t done with the Sharks since being traded from Chicago in 2010. Slava Voynov scored the second just five minutes later on a shot that went off the pipes and behind Niemi to give the Kings further chances that grew into a slight chance. The lead fell to just a pair with Jeff Carter assisting Trevor Lewis with a shot that went off the center’s skate to give him a taste of playoff success, but it would be all he would see for the night.
The Sharks defense returned denying the Kings further actions for a miraculous comeback and played out the period fighting for possession. Sharks right winger Brent Burns finished the Kings agonizing night with an empty net goal leading to one of San Jose’s best nights not seen in years. The Sharks netminder ended the night with 31 saves on the night while the Kings think of whether or not to stick with their number one for game two. Time can be made useful to them as a three-day rest for the Easter holiday sets both back for a Sunday night matchup in the Shark Tank.