Game One Recap: San Jose Demolishes Unprepared Kings

Ezra Shaw

The Kings lost 6-3. It wasn't that close.

Wow, what a great third period for the Los Angeles Kings! Unfortunately, it was part of the worst game the Kings have played this season. The San Jose Sharks crushed the Kings, so badly that even that 6-3 final score was slightly misleading. Figures that a series most are calling 50-50 would start out with such a lopsided affair.

[Box Score]

Things actually shaped up well for LA as we led up to game time. Joe Pavelski stayed on the first line, meaning that the third line (Tomas Hertl, James Sheppard, Tommy Wingels) created a potential mismatch in the Kings' favor. Mike Brown was inserted into the lineup in place of the more skilled Martin Havlat. But Todd McLellan's coaching moves didn't hurt the Sharks one bit, as they jumped on the Kings early. Three minutes in, Brent Burns wheeled around the net and passed it to Joe Pavelski in the slot. Slava Voynov limited Pavelski to a weak shot, but Quick didn't see the puck as it trickled toward him. Joe Thornton tipped it in just ahead of Jeff Carter to give the Sharks a quick lead. Brown did what he was in the lineup to do, starting some shenanigans...

... but penalties evened out and there was no lasting impact.

Halfway through the period, Drew Doughty took a holding penalty against Hertl, and the Sharks amped up their pressure. The Kings survived nine minutes of nothing from their end, though Logan Couture hit the post and the Kings' entire defense corps looked like they had woken up ten minutes before game time. Just when it looked like the Kings would escape the first down only 1-0, two quick strikes into what were basically empty nets stunned LA in the final minute. First, Quick kept up with a cross-ice pass to James Sheppard, but when his shanked shot went straight to Tomas Hertl on the other side, Quick had no way of getting back across. 48 seconds later, the dagger: Doughty failed to get the puck in deep, four Kings got caught up-ice, and Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto came back the other way. Marleau, to Nieto, back to Marleau, easy goal, 3-0 deficit after one.

The Kings came out of the gates in the second period looking... better? I don't know. They at least kept pace, but the scoring chances weren't there. And Anze Kopitar gave Raffi Torres a cold shoulder, which was a momentary bright spot. The problem was that Torres came back and scored goal #4 later in the period; after Marc-Edouard Vlasic hit the post on a shot which Quick should have dealt with easily, Torres got the long rebound and beat Quick on another shot which Quick should have dealt with easily. At least the second one had a bit of a screen. Vlasic added a power play goal with 3:31 to go in the third, and the Kings were toast.

LA swapped in Martin Jones for the third period and finally showed signs of life. Anze Kopitar intercepted an attempted clearing pass two minutes in and fed Jake Muzzin, whose long shot beat Antti Niemi. Five minutes later, Slava Voynov stickhandled past a couple defenders and threw the puck to the front, where Jarret Stoll was running interference on Niemi. And wouldn't you know it, the puck found its way past Niemi. Then it was Trevor Lewis... sort of. Jeff Carter fired a shot from the circle, which nicely banked off of Lewis in front past Niemi.

Inevitably, it was too little, too late, as Antti Niemi didn't allow anything else by him and Brent Burns fired one into an empty net. The third period effort was encouraging, though you can't really judge too much on a period that starts off with a five-goal deficit. Simply put, none of the Kings were good enough in Game 1, and Darryl Sutter has a lot of thinking to do before Sunday's Game 2.

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