There are some games that just shouldn't end in a shootout, and this was one of them. But you gotta admit, it was quite a shootout. Joe Thornton's tally in Round 8 lifted the San Jose Sharks over the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2.
Those eight rounds followed a game which was played at the highest level. It was chock-full of scoring chances, tremendous goaltending, and stars making plays, and it had plenty of viewers speculating as to how exciting a playoff rematch would be.
Personally, I'd be okay just not meeting the Sharks in the playoffs this time around, personally. They're pretty good.
(Before I get lost in the recap: I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Yes, even those of you in San Jose.)
The first period was largely controlled by the Sharks, but Los Angeles got the first shot and made it count. The Kings immediately entered the offensive zone after the opening faceoff, and won the puck along the boards to set up Mike Richards for a shot. Richards put it wide off the boards, but Dwight King got to the rebound and dropped it between his legs for Jeff Carter to deposit top-shelf. The resounding "BEAT LA" chant immediately faltered as the Kings celebrated 18 seconds in. (Fun note: the Sharks scored 13 seconds into the teams' first game this season and lost. Should've known!)
The Kings had a few decent chances to make it 2-0, with Mike Richards getting a point-blank shot stopped and pulling a Trevor Lewis* later on Antti Niemi. They also had a power play (after Andrew Desjardins caught Daniel Carcillo with an elbow to the head) in which they excelled at keeping the puck in the zone, but didn't score. When those chances failed, it was up to Ben Scrivens to preserve the lead against an aggressive Sharks team. San Jose fired 18 shots on net and had near-constant pressure towards the end of the period, but Scrivens made all the stops. In particular, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl had great chances.
*(henceforth, "pulling a Trevor Lewis" is shooting from behind the net on a breakaway.)
Both teams turned it around in the second period; San Jose on the scoreboard, Los Angeles on the ice. The equalizer came against the Kings' fourth line, and it wasn't a shock; Clifford-Vey-Toffoli line didn't get a single offensive-zone start tonight, and Vey lost all five of his faceoffs. So that meant a lot of defending, and when Jake Muzzin boxed out a Shark from a loose puck in front, he got no help from the tired forwards. Joe Pavelski got to it first and roofed it to make it 1-1. LA responded well, and Justin Williams drew a four-minute high-sticking penalty. After two minutes of nada, the Kings had two minutes of relentless attempts to score on a tired PK unit, but they couldn't beat Niemi. Largely unfazed, LA got some relentless backchecking and plenty of shots, including three or four "Grade-A" chances right in front from the King-Richards-Carter line. No goals, though, and they'd go 0-for-19 shooting in the second period.
San Jose, meanwhile, scored a really dumb goal after Tomas Hertl took the puck from Drew Doughty in the neutral zone. Joe Thornton pressured Willie Mitchell after the ensuing dump-in was blocked by Scrivens, and the puck got caught in Scrivens' legs before ending up in the Kings' net. Watch it here, but warning, it's dumb. Did I mention it was dumb? Fortunately, Drew Doughty got a dumb goal of his own to tie things up in the third period, though his end-to-end leading up to it was a thing of beauty. He stopped up in the offensive zone, and shot the puck towards the front looking to connect with (A) Jarret Stoll or (B) a Sharks player for a deflection. He got (B), and the puck bounced off the skate of Scott Hannan into the net.
This would end up being the third time in four games that the Kings scored in the third period to force overtime, but there were certainly plenty of chances for either team to win. Ben Scrivens made a classic windmill-style glove save on Brent Burns. Dwight King couldn't get a shot on a partial breakaway. Linden Vey was stopped by Niemi on a 2-on-1. The Sharks had six minutes of nearly continuous power-play time thanks to three Kings penalties in a five-minute stretch, but got absolutely nothing going. Patrick Marleau had a great chance immediately after the unsuccessful power plays. Scrivens stuck out his pad on a deflected shot with under five seconds to go to send the game to overtime. After 40 shots apiece and an astonishing 151 combined attempted shots, we were still tied 2-2 and the teams went to a shootout.
Your NHL.com shootout summary is below. Notes: Anze Kopitar's goal was great, Pavelski's goal was even better, Martin Havlat broke his stick, Richards had Niemi beat and shot wide, Hertl and Williams were just lucky, Dustin Brown went five-hole to respond to a pretty Dan Boyle goal, Toffoli and Vey missed their first career shootout attempts, and Joe Thornton was the fourth Shark to beat Scrivens by deking to the goalie's left. It was Thornton's first shootout attempt in four years, and his first shootout goal in six! It'd be the game-winner.
It was a resilient effort on the road by the Kings; the Sharks probably deserved the two points based on their even-strength play, but LA's power play efforts could have put them ahead in the end. Both goalies were excellent (aside from that second Sharks goal), and it was fun to watch even if very few outside of California were paying attention. Only three more weeks until these teams meet again, and if you missed this one, you'd better not miss that one.