(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
SAN JOSE- The San Jose Sharks lost the third game of the Western Conference Quarter Finals to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 2-1 in overtime. The Sharks still lead the series by 2-1. The game followed a peculiar statistic for the NHL playoff games Monday: all three games saw a goal scored in the first minute of the game, by the losing team.
In San Jose, that goal was scored by Joe Thornton. Anze Kopitar scored the tying goal for Los Angeles, and Tanner Pearson scored the overtime winner. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for Los Angeles, and Martin Jones made 22 saves for San Jose.
Monday’s game was a grueling affair for both teams, with all the regulation scoring coming early in the first period. After that, it was a push-me-pull-you match up and down the ice for more than 40 minutes. The Sharks did a very good job of limiting the Kings’ chances, but they could not take advantage of the chances they had to score. They outshot the Kings 30-24, and in the third period by 9-3.
After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said:
Over the second and third, I thought we grabbed it back, did a lot of good stuff tonight. Reality is, they’re a very good team. They’ve got multiple Stanley Cup winners over there.
We knew this wasn’t going to be a sweep. We’re in a good spot, I think we could have won the game tonight too, need to keep rolling out the same kind of game.
Through much of the game, the Sharks played well defensively but were less sharp in the offensive zone. Their power play stood out as being especially ineffective. It went 0-5 while Los Angeles went 1-3. Joe Thornton talked about the fifth power play after the game:
The last one especially, it felt like we were going to get it. The crowd was into it, we were into it, they broke a stick, we got a lot of shots and it felt like it was right there. But unfortunately it just didn’t happen.
Pete DeBoer is not overly concerned about the lack of results on the power play:
We had a lot of good looks, we had a lot of zone time. Because we don’t score doesn’t mean we’re not doing the right thing. That’s how the NHL goes. You’re not going to score on your power play every time. If we weren’t getting in and getting set up and getting looks, I’d be worried.
Did the Kings change their game much after losing two in Los Angeles? Shark goaltender Martin Jones did not think so:
Not really. They have their game plan, it’s crash the net, put pucks to the net. I thought we’ve done a really good job keeping them to the outside. But, yeah, I don’t think too much changed for them.
It took 30 seconds for the Sharks to score their only goal of the game. After pushing the puck out of their own zone, and touching it through the neutral zone with a pass or two, the Sharks’ top line made a couple of moves in the corner and suddenly Joe Thornton was skating behind the net and picking up the puck. He looked for a pass but did not see one so he carried it into the slot and took a shot. The puck went under Jonathan Quick without any fuss. The shot was so subtle that no one reacted for a beat. An assist went to Tomas Hertl.
The Sharks did not convert on their first power play of the game, at 5:33, but the Kings did score on their first, at 7:50. While Tommy Wingels sat in the box for hooking, Anze Kopitar picked up the rebound off of a Milan Lucic shot. A second assist went to Jake Muzzin.
At the half way point of the first period, things were not looking great for the Sharks. The score was tied, the shots were tied, but the Sharks had blocked more shots and the Kings had won 73% of the faceoffs. The Kings were bearing down.
At 11:50, Nick Spaling was called for tripping Rob Scuderi, putting the Sharks on their second penalty kill of the period. The Sharks did kill it off, but Los Angeles managed some good chances during the power play.
By the end of the period, Los Angeles had outshot San Jose by 13-7 but the score was still knotted at 1.
The Sharks started the second period with some energy, and had an early power play when  went off for . The Kings’ penalty kill was formidable. They not only prevented the Sharks from taking any shots, they kept most of the play outside their zone.
For the middle half of the period, the Sharks had trouble getting far beyond the Kings’ blue line. Any attempt to dump it in or carry it in was met with fiercely efficient resistance.
The Sharks had another power play at 13:01, after an interference call against Marian Gaborik. This power play was a lot more effective, but still did not score. The Kings still played well in front of their goaltender, blocking shots and crowding any skater that came near the blue paint.
Chris Tierney had a good chance near the 16 minute mark, a point blank shot on Jonathan Quick. Tierney caught a pass as he skated through the slot and tried a reverse shot, but Quick got his body in the way.
In general the second period was a frustrating one, with many missed calls and failed chances. The Sharks gained ground on the shot clock, but saw their power play fall to 0-3. With 2:19 left in the period, the Kings had still only taken two shots to the Sharks’ ten.
With 1:23 left in the period, Chris Tierney was called for playing the puck with his hand. The resulting Kings power play was fairly good, keeping the Sharks on their toes. The Sharks weathered the last seconds of the period and finished the second still tied at 1.
The Kings had six shots during the second period, to the Sharks 11.
The Sharks killed off the last seconds of the Tierney penalty and jumped out to a good start in the third. They put a couple of good shots on net in the first 90 seconds.
The period ground along after that, with neither team making any progress to speak of. At 9:40, Milan Lucic was called for slashing and the Sharks power play had another chance. The first 1:50 of the penalty was all Sharks, with the Kings’ penalty killers unable to change or get control of the puck at all. But the Sharks did not score.
With 5:56 left in regulation, the Kings’ Tanner Pearson put the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. The Sharks had only allowed the Kings one shot in the period to that point, and had taken five. Their power play, however, still could not produce a goal.
Peter DeBoer used his timeout with just under four minutes left, after an icing trapped some tired Sharks on the ice.
With 53.8 left in regulation, Tomas Hertl and Dustin Brown received roughing minors. They went to their respective rooms and the teams finished the period 4-on-4.
Heading into overtime, the shots were 27-22 San Jose.
3:47 into overtime, Tanner Pearson ended it after a miscue on the Sharks blue line by Brenden Dillon. Dustin Brown knocked Joonas Donskoi off the puck and Dillon tried to do the same to Brown. The puck escaped and Pearson picked it up behind Dillon and re-entered the Sharks zone two on one with Vincent LeCavalier. Neither Couture, Wingels, nor Hertl could catch him and Roman Polak could not block his shot. Assists went to Dustin Brown and Vincent LeCavalier.
Game Four will be Wednesday at 7:30 PT at SAP center.