The Los Angeles Kings desperately needed a win. Would they have preferred to do it with seven goals and without a nail-biting ending? Well, yeah. But on the road against the San Jose Sharks, a regulation win of any kind is just fine.
The game started off with a slow first period, without many shots but with plenty of hits. It wasn't all that exciting, especially compared to previous LA-SJ matchups. Sharks fans on Twitter got annoyed very quickly, especially since their best chance of the period (and perhaps of the game) came just two minutes in. Does this save by Jonathan Quick on Bracken Kearns look familiar?
If it doesn't, here's your reminder.
Kings fans, on the other hand, are more than used to this, and LA threw in a few good scoring chances just to keep us on our toes. Anze Kopitar had an open look after shrugging off Matt Nieto in front, but he fired into the crest of Alex Stalock. An open Mike Richards had all the space in the world after a Justin Williams set-up, but the puck glanced off his stick and the chance was gone. Richards made the scoreless first period sting a little more when he hit the post in the dying seconds. The Kings had the better chances, while the Sharks had gotten 19 hits.
The game remained scoreless through most of the second, with the Kings continuing to be the Kings. Jordan Nolan worked hard to earn a power play by muscling through Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle along the boards, but the Kings failed to even attempt a shot in the ensuing two minutes. Dwight King provided the second "PING" of the game. After 16 minutes, shots stood 4-3, and it looked like the teams would enter the third period scoreless. That was when Anze Kopitar stepped in.
About time we saw a bit of offensive skill. Good work by Jake Muzzin and Jeff Carter to quickly get the puck up the ice after Drew Doughty's blocked shot at the other end. But it was the stickhandling of Anze Kopitar which created the goal; despite Brent Burns knocking down the pass with a diving backcheck, Kopitar was somehow able to control it, stop on a dime, and tuck the puck around Stalock.
(By the way, the Kings were nice enough to wait until Stalock had broken the Sharks' franchise-record shutout streak to score. And they say we're jerks!)
The Sharks had nine shots through two periods, but it was clear that they would throw everything they had at the Kings in the third. That included a high stick, as Joe Pavelski caught Kopitar in the mouth with a bit of a baseball swing and took a double minor penalty. It knocked out a tooth, but it didn't cause Kopitar to miss any time. The four minutes were pretty unproductive, but it helped the Kings run down the clock against the desperate Sharks. San Jose's best chance to tie things up came milliseconds before the final buzzer; Dan Boyle forced an excellent pad save out of Quick as the horn sounded.
It's the first time in sixteen games that an LA-San Jose matchup has been won by the road team, and predictably, it was ugly. LA probably deserved two points on the balance of the game, as they hit three goalposts and were in control until playing prevent defense in the third. Even so, the Kings will still be looking for a true offensive surge in Phoenix tonight.