STAPLES CENTER – What began as a stalemated Game 5 in a tied series ended like the rest of the Sharks’ games in Los Angeles this season.
But their 3-0 loss to the Kings Thursday night has greater repercussions for the Sharks, who have won only one of nine Stanley Cup playoff series in which they trail 3-2.
Though the rival clubs remained scoreless nearly through two periods, the Kings clearly dominated all-around – in shots, hits and raw physical intensity.
Center Logan Couture was frank about it:
“We didn’t deserve to win. The power play was brutal. … We didn’t deserve to win tonight.”
And coach Todd McLellan obviously wasn’t too pleased:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
Video: CSN Bay Area
“We’ve got a lot of things to improve on and we need a better effort from a lot of people. You have to give LA credit they played well too but our go-to-guys weren’t particularly sharp tonight. When that happens your depth has to come through as well and they have to provide a little spark, a little bit of energy and maybe get you one. This was a team loss, this wasn’t just a few guys.”
The Kings’ dominance finally injured the Sharks with 1:52 remaining in the second period, when Kyle Clifford’s shot from the point deflected to the left crease where Anze Kopitar had to merely tip it in. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi lost his stick in the scramble.
Then only 53 seconds into the final period, the Kings made it a demoralizing 2-0 lead. Trevor Lewis won the draw from Joe Thornton which was rare given Thornton’s success on faceoffs in this series. Lewis got the puck to Slava Voynov who scored on a one-timer through traffic.
The rest of the third period would revert to the physical struggle that defined Game 5 from the onset. The Sharks didn’t have power play opportunities to replicate the Kings’ miraculous comeback in Game 2 – scoring two man-advantage goals within 22 seconds in the final minutes to win it 4-3.
An empty net goal by Kings center Jeff Carter at 19:28 sealed the 3-0 loss for the Sharks.
But Couture told SFBay he is confident his team will pull through at home and be back in Los Angeles for Game 7 on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to be confident. I mean, the season is on the line. We’re playing for our lives. I expect to see us a desperate team. I expect our best players to be way better, myself included, in Game 6 at home.”
McLellan acknowledged Couture’s honest assessment, adding that they will need contributions from their big boys as well as the supporting cast.
The lack of 5-on-5 scoring, low scoring, and fewer shots on goal, all reflected how tight the game and series panned out. McLellan said:
“Sometimes you get into a series where strange things happen. This has kind of followed the script with home teams winning … It’s stuck to the script so far; it’s our job to change it a little bit.”
Apart from lackadaisical power plays, the Sharks were outshot by the Kings 29-24. San Jose’s T.J. Galiardi said:
Sharks forward T.J. Galiardi
Video: CSN Bay Area
“I think it started from their D (defensemen) being active and we didn’t really handle it very well, so we’ll get to the drawing board and just have good wall work and we’ll be fine.”
With Game 5 under their belt, the Kings recorded their 13th straight victory on home ice, a franchise record. Even if the Sharks avoid elimination at home on Sunday and tie the series at 3-3, it doesn’t bode well when the defending Stanley Cup champions are holding a streak like that.
Jason Demers played his first game of the postseason but played forward instead of defenseman. To make room for Demers, Tim Kennedy did not dress. Martin Havlat and Adam Burish were also scratched. … Actor Tom Cruise was shown on NBC telecast watching the game from seats on the glass. … Kings coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his lines.