By: Nick Lanciani
Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Martin Jones led the way for the San Jose Sharks to their 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night in Game 2 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One matchup. The Sharks now have a 2-0 series lead, having won both games on the road at Staples Center, before heading home to the SAP Center for Game 3.
Jones made 26 saves on 27 shots against, yielding a .963 SV% en route to the win, while Jonathan Quick made 21 saves on 23 shots faced in the loss with a .913 SV%.
Saturday night was the first game back from injury for Los Angeles Kings forward, Marian Gaborik, while it was the first game that defenseman, Alec Martinez missed with an undisclosed injury. Jamie McBain was inserted on LA’s blueline in Martinez’s place and Gaborik wound his way up in the top-six forwards, while Milan Lucic was bumped down to the Kings’ third line. Game 2 was also San Jose’s 16th consecutive playoff game against Los Angeles.
Pavelski kicked off the scoring at 3:37 of the first period with his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pavelski’s tally was assisted by Brent Burns and Joe Thornton and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead that they would hold until the first intermission.
By the end of twenty minutes of play, San Jose was outshooting Los Angeles 7-5 and leading in blocked shots (7-6), while the Kings were leading in hits (17-16), faceoffs (15-10) and giveaways (5-1). Both teams were tied in takeaways (0-0) and were unsuccessful on the power play (San Jose was 0/2, while Los Angeles was 0/1).
The second period saw more domination of the pace of the game from the Sharks as both teams swapped chances, but Jones and Quick stood tall in goal. Tyler Toffoli and Lucic took penalties at 8:14 of the second period and were sent to the penalty box for roughing and charging, respectively.
Thirty-seconds was all it took for San Jose to score on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play opportunity as Couture found Quick way out of position and was able to snap the puck home with ease. Couture’s goal gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead and was assisted by Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. The Kings were clearly shaken by the goal, but could not find a way to try to take back the momentum that was fully tilted in San Jose’s favor.
What seemed to be a rarity on the night, next occurred with under nine minutes to go in the 2nd. Tommy Wingels was flying up ice on a breakaway and Quick remained square to the shooter, instead of getting out of position— outside of the crease— thereby denying Wingels and providing a huge save in what might have otherwise all but sealed the deal for the Sharks.
San Jose took a couple more penalties as the second period went on at 12:18 (Matt Nieto for hooking) and 18:17 (Nick Spaling for holding), but the Kings were powerless on the power play, unable to convert on either opportunity.
At the end of forty minutes of play, the fans at the Staples Center began to grow restless, with the Sharks beating the home-team Kings, 2-0, and leading in shots on goal (16-14).
San Jose also led in takeaways (2-0) and blocked shots (16-13), while Los Angeles had a 28-16 faceoff win advantage, despite leading in giveaways (6-3). Hits were even at 31-31 and the Sharks were 1/4 on the power play after two, while the Kings were 0/3.
The third period began with a bit of a slow start, but the Kings were starting to press, given that they were down by two and in the final twenty minutes of play, unless they had anything to do about it.
Nick Spaling was sent to the box for tripping Los Angeles defenseman, Drew Doughty, at 10:59 of the 3rd, but once again the Kings were unable to convert on the power play as less than a minute later, Jeff Carter was sent to the penalty box for slashing at 11:28 of the period.
Yet the result of a slashing minor against Melker Karlsson at 14:06 of the third period resulted in a Los Angeles power play that sparked some high intensity desperation back into the game. In a frenzy of bodies and pucks loose in front of the net and with Martin Jones out of position in the crease, Vincent Lecavalier was able to find the puck and send it home with a backhand on the power play at 14:59 of the 3rd.
Lecavalier’s goal cut the Sharks lead in half to 2-1 and was assisted by Jake Muzzin and Tanner Pearson.
With about 90 seconds left in regulation, Kings head coach, Darryl Sutter, pulled Quick for an extra attacker but the effort was ultimately for naught. The Sharks downed the Kings 2-1 on road ice trailing in shots (27-23), hits (47-40), faceoff wins (41-27) and giveaways (14-7) to Los Angeles. San Jose finished the game leading in blocked shots (28-17) and takeaways (2-0). Both teams were 1/5 on the night on the power play.
Jones became the 2nd goalie in Sharks history to win his first 2 career playoff starts— the other being Wade Flaherty on May 17, 1995 and May 19, 1995. Per Elias Sports, San Jose also took a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-7 format via two road wins for the 3rd time in franchise history (with the previous two times being the 1995 Western Conference Quarterfinals and the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals).
The series now shifts to the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Monday night at 10:30 PM EST for Game 3 and can been seen on NBCSN nationally in the United States and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.