By: Nick Lanciani
The San Jose Sharks remained perfect against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center this year, including both the regular season and the postseason, defeating the Kings 6-3 in Game 5 and winning the best-of-7-game series 4-1.
Martin Jones made 19 saves on 22 shots faced for an .864 SV% en route to the victory, while LA’s Jonathan Quick saved just 22 shots of the 27 he faced for an .815 SV% in the loss. Entering Friday night, Los Angeles was trailing 3-1 in a series for the 14th time in franchise history. Of the 13 prior occurrences, the Kings were only able to come back and win the series twice, once in 2014 vs. San Jose and the other time versus the Edmonton Oilers in 1989.
Joonas Donskoi kicked off the goal scoring frenzy at 1:08 of the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Logan Couture picked up his first of three assists on the night on Donskoi’s first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
At 2:45 of the period, Luke Schenn interfered with Tomas Hertl and was sent to the penalty box, giving San Jose their first power play of the night, which quickly turned into a 5-on-3 advantage 16 seconds after Schenn’s penalty, due to Dustin Brown having tripped Shark’s goaltender, Martin Jones. Despite the two-man advantage, the Sharks were unable to score on the power play.
Chris Tierney picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal at 11:21 of the first period with some help from Brent Burns, who like Couture, also went on to have a three-assist night. Tierney’s goal made it 2-0 San Jose with lots of time left in both the first period and in the game.
Sharks forward, Joel Ward was penalized for tripping Trevor Lewis at 16:27 of the opening frame, but San Jose’s penalty kill was able to avert a power play goal from the Kings.
After one, it was 2-0 San Jose. The Sharks were leading in shots on goal (13-4), hits (12-10), takeaways (1-0) and blocked shots (9-3), while Los Angeles was controlling the faceoff dot (14-12). Both teams had committed four giveaways each after twenty minutes of play.
The second period opened up to Matt Nieto making it 3-0 Sharks a little after four minutes into the period. Nieto’s first goal of the playoffs was assisted by Ward and Couture at 4:05 of the period. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Marleau was granted a penalty shot for being denied a scoring opportunity with 14:29 to go in the 2nd. Despite his moves, Jonathan Quick stood tall and denied Marleau of a penalty shot goal that would’ve given the Sharks a four-goal lead.
Just as it was looking like the Sharks might finally exercise some demons from the past, Anze Kopitar tipped one by Jones at 7:44 of the 2nd for his 2nd of the series, assisted by Dwight King (1) and Drew Doughty (1) to make the Kings trail by two.
Jeff Carter quickly followed up at 11:26 of the 2nd period with his 2nd of the postseason to cut San Jose’s lead to one. Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli picked up the helpers on Carter’s goal.
Carter’s goal meant that Los Angeles was trailing 3-2 with plenty of time left to be a threat.
Nearly five minutes later, Kris Versteeg tied the game, 3-3, with his first goal of the playoffs, assisted by Kyle Clifford and Muzzin. The celebration was short lived, rather, nearly ruined when Trevor Lewis put San Jose on the power play at 17:26 of the second period after slashing Hertl. The Sharks did not score on the man advantage and the game went into the second intermission tied at 3.
San Jose held a slim lead in shots on goal (23-18) and dominated blocked shots (20-8), while Los Angeles had taken control of hits (27-24), faceoff wins (29-23) and giveaways (12-10). Both teams had one takeaway after forty minutes of play and the Sharks were 0/3 on the power play, while Los Angeles was 0/1.
There were no penalties in the third period, however there were still lots of goals.
Donskoi continued to set the heroic tone for San Jose almost four minutes into the third period with what would be the game-winning goal. Burns and Couture picked up the assists.
It wasn’t until 12:24 of the 3rd that the Sharks would score again when San Jose captain, Joe Pavelski beat Quick on a shot to the back of the twine. Burns and Paul Martin got the assists on Pavelski’s 5th goal of the postseason and the Sharks were now in command of the game with a two-goal lead.
With about four minutes left in the game, Darryl Sutter signaled for Quick to vacate the Kings’ net and utilize an extra attacker, but it was ultimately to no avail. Shortly after Joe Thornton iced the puck aiming for LA’s empty net, Melker Karlsson received a pass from Marleau and put the puck at the back of the net for his the empty net goal that sealed the deal on the series. Karlsson’s first of the series gave San Jose a 6-3 lead at 19:38 of the third period.
The Sharks defended the Kings last ditch efforts on their season and emerged victorious once again on road ice at Staples Center this (post)season.
San Jose finished with six goals on the scored board in what was the highest scoring game of the series and recorded 28 shots on goal compared to Los Angeles’s three goals on 22 shots on goal. The Kings finished the night leading in hits (39-30), faceoff wins (41-29) and giveaways (16-11), while the Sharks led in blocked shots (29-11). Both teams finished the night unsuccessful on the power play and with one takeaway each.
San Jose will now wait for the winner of the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators series to end and then face its winner in the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Los Angeles will face many tough questions this offseason after a disappointing Game 5 loss and overall disappointing postseason performance based on how they got into the playoffs in the first place. They’ll also face the decision of whether or not to resign pending unrestricted free agent, Milan Lucic, who is sure to attract some attention from several teams around the league.
In any case, the fourth installment of San Jose vs. Los Angeles was yet another epic in the storied history of California hockey.