SAP CENTER — So, you didn’t think the tension in the arena between the Sharks and Kings could be any thicker?
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Three minutes before scheduled warmups for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a power outage at the Tank left the arena’s sound system completely shot.
So when teams finally took the ice for warm-ups, there was nothing but clanking pucks and angry “Beat LA!” chants to fill in the awkward silence that filled the rink.
Such was the eventful start to a highly-anticipated and hard-hitting opening tilt.
Except — unlike all the defensive battles between the California rivals this season — Thursday’s match was all about the San Jose’s offense for 40 minutes, and LA’s for the final 20.
Luckily, this game didn’t mirror the Blues-Blackhawks matchup which went into triple overtime. Instead, the Sharks held on to emerge victorious over the SoCal visitors 6-3.
It was a heavily-touted game that head coach Todd McLellan said he was glad was over:
“It was a great game. We won… And now we leave it alone. It’s over. It’s done… Regardless of what the score was, for or against us, we’ve got to move on now and prepare to get better.”
Could that response have been due to the fact that the Sharks went from having a 5-0 lead entering the third period to almost allowing LA to make a comeback?
Raffi Torres had a different approach, saying the team needs to look at that third period and learn from it:
“If you sit back against a team like that, that’s what they are going to do. We’ve got to keep going after them and keep playing the way we know how to play. We can’t take breaks in the third. I think we got to learn from that.”
San Jose’s top line put the home team on top just a few minutes into the opening period. Joe Thornton, posted up in the blue paint, tipped in Joe Pavelski’s beauty of a backhanded shot to beat Jonathan Quick (23 saves). Brent Burns also tallied an assist as San Jose took the early 1-0 lead.
Tomas Hertl got what is sure to be one of many redemption goals on LA during the series with 51 seconds left in the first stanza with a wrister up close to build the Sharks lead 2-0.
Then, with mere seconds left, Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto converted on the two-on-one thanks to Marleau’s tip-in past Quick’s skate. The Sharks were up 3-0 before the first intermission.
Raffi Torres got his own redemption goal towards the end of the second frame when he got hold of Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s rebound and poked it in to bury the Kings into a 4-0 hole. Mike Brown also registered an assist.
The Kings tried to up the physicality of the game, but only got themselves into penalty trouble towards the end of the second period. With under a minute left on a Tyler Toffoli slashing penalty, Vlasic went five-hole and brought the score to 5-0.
It was no surprise when the third period started up and Quick had been replaced between the pipes with Martin Jones.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin ruined Antti Niemi’s (31 save) potential shutout, beating on the left side to put LA on the board 5-1. Slava Voynov added an unassisted goal to the mix to close the score gap 5-2 with just a little over 13 minutes left to play.
Trevor Lewis made the game a bit more interesting when he deflected Jeff Carter’s shot into San Jose’s net to make the score 5-3.
But Burns put the final nail in the coffin with an unassisted empty net goal from way up top with under a minute left to play.
Vlasic summed up the game as the team looks to work out a few kinks before the next battle:
“We expected them to push back and they did. We got to be ready for game two. We had two great periods. Third one wasn’t that great. But we’ll be ready for Sunday.”
The Sharks host the Kings for Game 2 on Easter Sunday, April 20. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The last time the Sharks lead 3-0 after the 1st period was Game 3 vs VAN in the 2011 Western Conference Final [Credit: Josh Dubow, AP] … All four of San Jose’s lines scored a goal in tonight’s contest [Credit: Josh Dubow, AP]… The Sharks tied their regular season hit record, set April 3rd, 2014 versus Los Angeles, with 52 hits on the night… Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Raffi Torres scored their first goals of the 2014 playoffs… Patrick Marleau recorded his 58th career playoff goal… Tomas Hertl scored his first career playoff goal and added his first career playoff assist on the Vlasic goal… The following players had multi-point nights: James Sheppard, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl, & Brent Burns… Matt Nieto recorded his first career playoff assist… Mike Brown assisted on the Torres goal. It was his 3rd career playoff point.