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SAN JOSE, CA - Playoff hockey is a wonderful time of year. The hometown San Jose Sharks made the home crowd at SAP Center (not to mention me, only I was stationed in my chair in front of the TV) quite happy after taking the first game of the series against the Los Angeles Kings. The final score from the game was 6-3.
The tone for this series was set early. It was and will continue to be a violent, hard hitting series between two teams who really dislike each other. The hard hits will continue on Sunday night in San Jose for game 2, where San Jose hopes to give itself a 2-game advantage heading in to Los Angeles. The Kings of course will be trying to steal one and draw even.
So, what happened during last night’s game?
The San Jose Sharks dominated the first two periods in every way. They were getting more scoring chances, they were faster, they were stronger, they were unstoppable. The only thing that kept the Kings afloat at all was goalie Jonathan Quick, who of course we remember was teammates with Sharks Player-of-the-Year Joe Pavelski on Team USA in the previous Winter Olympics.
It was Pavelski’s team that dominated early. In the 1st period, the Sharks had built a 3-0 lead on the LA Kings. The first
goal of the game came just 3 minutes in to the series. Captain Joe Thornton was credited with the goal, and he was assisted by Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns. Then, the last minute of the period came around. In that final minute, the Sharks scored twice. The first one was from Tomas Hertl, and he was assisted by James Sheppard and Tommy Wingels. This was Hertl’s first career playoff game, so of course this was his first career playoff goal. Then, with just 4 seconds to go in the period, Patrick Marleau got a goal as well. He was assisted by Matt Nieto and James Sheppard. The fans in San Jose were overjoyed after the first period, as their team truly looked close to unbeatable.
In the second period, not a lot changed. The Sharks still looked dominant and they clearly had the mindset that nothing was getting in the way of a game 1 victory. The first goal of the period came nearly 13 minutes in, and it was a strike by Raffi Torres (assisted by Mike Brown and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) that put the Sharks up 4-0. Less than 3 minutes later, Vlasic got a goal of his own on the power play. He was assisted by Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. So when the second period ended, the Sharks had built a commanding (to say the least) 5-0 lead over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings made it clear that it’s not over ’till the fat lady sings, and the fat lady wasn’t even in the SAP Center yet.
The third period was pretty much the exact opposite of periods one and two. I’m not sure what Kings coach Darryl Sutter told his team during the second intermission, but whatever it was, it provided quite the spark. Just 2 minutes in, the Kings
were on the board. Jake Muzzin got the first goal of the series for the Kings, while Anze Kopitar got the first assist. Just under 5 minutes later, Slava Voynov got himself an unassisted goal which brought the Kings within 3. The Kings were controlling the period. They were getting more shots, more scoring chances, more everything. That lead to a third Kings goal, this time by Trevor Lewis, assisted by Jeff Carter and Robyn Regehr. The Kings made it a game. The score was 5-3 and there was plenty of time left. They still had about 6 minutes to work with. Over the span of those 6 minutes, the Sharks defense stepped up. Of course, with time winding down, coach Sutter pulled his goalie for an extra attacker and the Kings went to work. Then, with 55 seconds left, Brent Burns fired a long shot on that open goal and he nailed it. The score became 6-3 and Sharks fans could taste the sweetness of a game 1 win, while Kings fans tasted the bitter opposite.
The three stars of the game were San Jose Sharks Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Raffi Torres, and James Sheppard. The Kings won the shot battle 34-33 and won the face-off battle 35-33. They also got 17 more hits. But the Sharks led in the most important category at the end of the game. We will see if they do it again on Sunday night.
Pictured below is statistics from last night’s contest.