SAN JOSE, Calif – In game three of the Western Conference semi-finals, the San Jose Sharks returned home in hopes of gaining traction in a series where Los Angeles dominated on the scoreboard. Saturday night, the Sharks proved they belonged in the second round as they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in overtime at the HP Pavilion.
A goal by Logan Courture just a minute and a half into overtime won the game for the Sharks who dominated in shots 40-27, but finally solved Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick who has been stellar in the postseason.
The goal culminated a game filled with physical play with several players on each team leaving from time to time to get repairs in the locker room. Courture’s departure and subsequent return in the second period appeared to give his teammates a lift.
San Jose knew they were close to breaking through against the Kings as they came within minutes of winning game two before two late penalties, one questionable, late in the previous game. Los Angeles scored two goals while on the power play in the final two minutes.
Game three began ominously when Kings’ defenseman Jake Muzzin sent the puck over the glass from his own zone leading to a power play for San Jose. Game two ended with a questionable delay of game penalty. This provided the Sharks with a chance to seize the lead.
On the ensuing draw, Sharks face-off man Joe Pavelski won the draw sending the puck back to Patrick Marleau. He sent the pass to the left point where Dan Boyle let go a rocket beating Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick high on the stick side while he was done on the ice.
The goal set the tone for the game. To begin just three seconds into the man advantage and just 97 seconds into the game, the Sharks were looking to send the Kings a message and establish how the game would be dictated.
Just over four minutes into the period, San Jose threatened again. Bringing the puck back from their own zone, Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart sent the puck up to James Sheppard who sent a drive Quick just got a left arm on and deflected into the corner. The physical play was starting to have an impact on the Kings.
Eight minutes into the period, Kings’ sniper Jeff Carter took a tripping penalty and the Sharks looked to add to their lead. While San Jose put several good shots on the Los Angeles net, Quick handled then easily and just enough for the Kings to get back into the game.
This occurred just halfway into the period and second after the penalty to Carter ended. After a centering pass in the Kings end by Scott Gomez went the length of the ice into San Jose territory, the Sharks failed to exit their zone with it. Tyler Tiffoli intercepted a pass up ice by Brad Stuart, turned to his backhand and sent a shot past Sharks’ goaltender Antii Niemi low stick side to tie the game. It was a damaging giveaway and was the only major flaw of the period by San Jose
The first twenty minutes ended with San Jose leading in shots 14-11 and hits 22-11, but could not get the edge on the scoreboard as it remained 1-1 after one period of play.
San Jose continued their control of play at the start of the second period, but the stanza began with veteran defenseman Scott Hannan injuring himself while sliding to block a shot just fifteen seconds in. He returned seven minutes into the period and there was no word on the extent of the injury.
A little later, Martin Havlat and Logan Courture left the game. No word on Havlat’s injury. Courture appeared to leave the game with a left wrist injury, but then returned with 90 seconds left in the second period. The Sharks were getting beat up, but pressed on and continued to pressure the Los Angeles net.
While San Jose continued to the physical play, officials took notice and gave Marc-Edouard Vlasic a roughing penalty for working over Kings’ captain Dustin Brown. The Sharks kept Los Angeles from penetrating their tight defense and the resumed their attack.
With less than five minutes left, San Jose had a glorious chance. With Pavelski behind the net, he sent a centering pass to Andrew Desjardins who one-timed a snap shot on goal. Quick kicked out the right pad and stoned him cold. It was the best chance of the night, but again, Quick shut it down. The Kings’ netminder was getting back to playing in a way which has discouraged shooters making them wonder if they would ever score.
As the period ended, tempers began to flare and it was enough for the officials to take out their whistles and establish order. While battling to the right of the San Jose goal, the Kings’ Mike Richards and the Sharks’ Scott Gomez battled after the whistle receiving roughing minors leaving play at 4-4.
San Jose continued to dominate in shots, 14-7 in the second period, 28-18 for the game. In the hits department, San Jose continued to lead in this category 35-24 after the teams answered each other by going 13-13 in the period. The story continued to be the play of Quick and leaving the Sharks wondering what it would take to put pucks past him.
The third period opened with promise for the Sharks. Just minutes into the final period, Sharks’ captain Joe Thornton intercepted an ill-advised pass from Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov and attempted a wrap-around. Quick answered by having the lower area of the net covered.
The Kings countered when Brad Richardson sped up the right side and sent a saucer pass to Dustin Penner racing toward the net. Niemi flashed the right pad and sent the puck into the corner.
The team traded attempts during most of the period with neither able to penetrate the others goal leading to a dramatic finish toward the end.
Late in regulation, just under a minute to go, the Sharks’ fate changed for the better and a little poetic justice was in play. With Kings’ defenseman Robin Regehr off for hooking Tommy Wingels, Kings’ forward Trevor Lewis crashed the San Jose net colliding with Niemi. Goaltender interference was called with five seconds left in the period.
The ensuing 5-3 advantage gave the Sharks the chance they needed. San Jose applied pressure on the Los Angeles net. With one penalty expired and an already tired Kings’ unit on the ice, Joe Thornton began the play leading to the game-winning goal.
Thornton held the puck on the far boards and sent a pass to Patrick Marleau near the end line. He drew Voynov toward him leaving Logan Courture open in front. Marleau slid the puck to Courture who fired high glove side beating Quick and tightening the series.
The Sharks strength in outshooting and outhitting the Kings remained a common theme in game three. That the Sharks continued to punish the Kings along the boards served as continuance of the physical series Los Angeles engaged in with the St. Louis Blues in round one.
Game four is Monday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose. The puck drops at 10:00 PM ET.
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