Logan’s Run To Victory- Logan Couture’s game winning goal 89 seconds into the first overtime period lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory of the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of their best of seven Western Conference Semi-Final Series. The Sharks, facing a 0-3 series deficit with a loss benefited from the very sequence that cost them Game 2, only this time it was the Kings who were being escorted to the penalty box towards the end of the third period. With 41 seconds remaining in regulation, Robyn Regehr was called for tripping. With just 4.5 seconds remaining, the Kings’ Trevor Lewis was called for goalie interference when the Los Angeles had a huge short handed opportunity that was wasted when Lewis threw an elbow at Niemi. The Sharks would have 1:18 of a 5 on 3 man advantage on the power play. If that failed, team teal would still have 37 extra seconds of power play time to start the extra period. On the five on three power play to start the overtime, the Sharks were almost trying to be too fine with the puck and look for the perfect pass before taking any shots, a very conservative approach given the gravity of what was at stake. The five on three would expire with the Sharks getting just on shot on goal on Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick. However, the Sharks by this time had picked up some level of momentum and Couture was in the right place at the right time and was able to hammer the game winning goal past Quick getting the rebound of a scoring attempt by Patrick Marleau. The win is huge for the Sharks being a must win against a team that was just itching to bury them in an 0-3 hole.
Opening Act- The Sharks opened the game being the aggressor and it would pay off early as team teal was able to draw the Kings’ Jake Muzzin into a penalty. Muzzin trying to clear the puck out of the Kings’ defensive zone cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass putting team teal on an early power play. The Sharks wasted no time at all as off of the face off Joe Pavelski got the puck over to Patrick Marleau. Once in possession of the puck Marleau the fed Dan Boyle at the point. Boyle then drilled a 50 foot slap shot that beat Quick giving the Sharks a huge jump out of the gate at 1-0. The Sharks would continue to press Quick but he soon would settle in and be his usual difficult to score on self. The Sharks may have gotten a little over confident in their aggressiveness and it would cost them as they got careless with the puck in their own defensive zone half way into the opening period. Shortly after a Sharks power play had ended unsuccessfully, goalie Antti Niemi left his net area to retrieve a loose puck would clear the puck over to Brad Stuart. Once Stuart had the puck he tried to clear it down ice and instead accidentally put it in an area where the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli intercepted it near the Sharks net. Toffoli immediately launched a backhanded shot that beat Niemi to tie the game.
Niemi Rallies- The Kings having weathered the Sharks early storm, then scoring on a Sharks turnover suddenly had new life and momentum. Niemi had no time to think about what had just happened as he knew he would be in for another tough evening and did all he could in net over the next three periods to keep the Sharks in the game. Despite the Sharks leading in the shot on goal category, the Kings seemingly were the better team when it came to applying pressure and sustaining puck possession for longer periods of time. Niemi would have one of his better nights in the net as he was able to keep the Kings off the scoreboard making 26 saves, 23 of which came after Tofolli’s game tying goal. The Sharks despite the events at the end of Game Two saw their penalty kill rally alongside Niemi. The Sharks held the Kings scoreless in their only two power play opportunities, but that was huge for the penalty kill’s psyche considering how Thursday Night’s game had ended. The Sharks needed a huge game from Niemi and they got it. Niemi’s best saves of the evening came in the second period versus Kings’ Captain Dustin Brown and a later point blank opportunity by Mike Richards. In the third period Niemi stood tall on strong scoring bids from Dustin Penner and Slava Voynov.
Quick Still Tough- Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick would make 38 saves on the evening and made life tough for the Sharks who again seemingly just could not buy a goal after Boyle’s power play tally early in the opening period. Couture, Marleau, Pavelski along with Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Scott Gomez and others experience Quick’s fine art of grand larceny as he was able to keep the Sharks at bay up until the overtime period. Quick’s best save of the evening came when he stoned a point blank scoring opportunity by Andrew Desjardins. Again for the majority of the contest Quick rose to the occasion and just frustrated team teal time and time again. Fortunately for the Sharks Niemi was able to match Quick save for save as the evening wore on.
Couture, Hannan Rally From Injuries. Havlat Not So Much- This game took it’s toll on the Sharks who saw both Couture and Scott Hannan sustain injuries during the contest. Couture towards the end of the first period blocked a slap shot and seemed hobbled early in the second period, sitting out a majority of the middle frame. Hannan meanwhile in attempting to block a Kings’ pass in the Sharks defensive zone went face first into the boards and sat out for a brief period of time. Martin Havlat, making his first appearance since Game One of the Vancouver series, left after one shift and did not return.
Shark Bytes- The Three stars of the game were 3) Jonathan Quick (LA); 2) Antti Niemi (Sharks), and 1) Logan Couture (Sharks)…Quick was assessed a 10 minute and game misconduct by the game officials moments after the game had ended as he apparently went on a profanity laced tirade as he left the ice…Earlier Saturday the NHL announced that the Sharks franchise was fined $100,000 before the game for general manager Doug Wilson’s comments Friday criticizing the suspension of F Raffi Torres for the rest of the series. Torres was suspended for the playoffs by the league for his Game 1 hit that knocked out Jarret Stoll. The league explained the fine as an “Illegal Communication” which brought criticism to the integrity of the officiating in Game 2 this past Thursday evening. Commissioner Gary Bettman and Director of Play Safety Brendan Shanahan have made it no secret in the past that they are not tolerate of any criticisms constructive or otherwise within their league from Players, Coaches, General Managers and even Owners. This fine pretty much states that the league cannot accept criticism at any level and the Commissioner Gary Bettman is a pretty weak man as well as Commissioner for fining the Sharks. In Doug Wilson’s statement, he actually noted that the Sharks do not agree with Torres’ suspension however were more than willing to abide by it. Don’t look for the NHL to be doing the Sharks any favors at any time in the near future as long as Bettman is in charge, which will be for awhile. As for Bettman, there is a reason he is booed in every single NHL arena he visits and when he presents the Stanley Cup at the end of the post season. Don’t look for that to change either. Not to say the Sharks get no respect from the national media, however NBC Sports either intentionally or not was advertising Saturday Nights Playoff Game between the Los Angeles Kings and St Louis Blues in between the second and third periods of the Red Wings-Blackhawks game Saturday afternoon. NBC Sports must be using interns on the weekend. Sharks are now looking ahead to Game 4…and another “Must Win” scenario…
Next Sharks Game- Game 4: Tuesday, May 21st at 7pm PT at the Shark Tank. LA Kings vs. Sharks. TV: NBC Sports Network (USA); TSN (Canada); Sharks Radio Network (KUFX 98.5FM San Jose/102.1 FM San Francisco, KTHK 1140am in Sacramento (if the Oakland A’s aren’t playing)…
Be sure to follow all of your BoT staff on twitter!!!
The Jessica Redfield Ghawi Foundation:
Stand Up 2 Cancer:
So, So Much Hope
The One Fund Boston
GO SHARKS!!! Because It’s The Cup!