Getting Things Even- Antti Niemi made 13 saves in the third period as the San Jose Sharks weathered a late huge ice storm from the Los Angeles Kings in route to a 2-1 victory before a sold out house at The Shark Tank. With the victory the Sharks have held serve taking Games Three and Four to even the best of seven Western Conference Semi-Finals series at two games apiece. The Sharks now have not only made this a series against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, they have created a scenario where now the series has become a best two out of three match with the winner advancing to the Western Conference Finals next week. Niemi, who is one of the main reasons the Sharks are in the post season in the first place, has given up only two goals to the Kings in their last two games on 50 total shots on goal. The Sharks are still having a tough time with Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick, who kept Los Angeles in the game when the Sharks were hitting the Kings hard early on.
On The Attack Early- The Sharks came out of the gates for Game 4 well rested and ready for the task at hand and made their presence felt early and often. Team teal did an impressive job of dominating much of the play in the opening period limiting the Kings to just three shots on goal, and defensively not allowing a single puck to get to Niemi in the final 10:02 of frame. The Sharks attack hammered Kings’ goalie Quick early getting six shots on goal in the first five minutes of the contest. The Sharks broke though with just over six minutes gone in the first period when Brent Bruns took a perfect feed pass from Sharks Captain Joe Thornton and drilled the puck past Quick’s right into an open area of the net. The opportunity was created when Burns launched a hard shot on goal that blocked by the Kings’ Mike Richards. Thornton was in the right spot to pick up the puck after Richards’ shot blocking effort. Thornton then and found Burns who had managed to clear himself of the Kings defenders, who happened to be moving in on Thornton. Once in receipt of Thornton’s feed pass, Burns drilled the rubber biscuit into the net to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The Sharks would get two power play opportunities later in the period however were not able to take advantage of either one as Quick slammed the door on the four shot attempts he saw. Tommy Wingles managed to get a puck past Quick on the Sharks second power play try, but his wrist shot hit the goal post and bounced away harmlessly.
Tightening the Crown- The Sharks continued to keep the pressure on the Kings in the early part of the second period though Los Angeles did show signs of become more aggressive. Team teal would get a huge opportunity early as the Kings’ Colin Fraiser was called for Roughing just over three minutes into the second stanza. After failing on two power chances in the opening period, the Sharks would find the third power play chance to be the charm. Logan Couture would get his fifth goal of the post season as he was in the right place at the right time in front of the Kings net alongside of Patrick Marleau. Dan Boyle would launch a booming slap shot from the point that deflected of Couture’s stick and beat Quick five hole. Boyle took the puck to the point to where he had a clear shot on Quick after taking a feed pass from Joe Pavelski. With just under four minutes gone in the second period, the Sharks had a two goal advantage for the first time in the series. The Sharks defense then took over and again stalled the Kings’ defensive attack in holding them to just six shots on goal for the period. Not to be outdone, the Kings’ defense was equally stingy on the Sharks only allowing six shots on goal to get through to Quick who made the saves look routine.
Survivor: Shark Tank- The third period of Game 4 was the polar opposite of the 1st period as far as Sharks were concerned. In the opening period, the team teal had twelve more shots on goal then did the Kings (15-3). In the third period, the Kings would take charge and carry the play for the entire period in outshooting the Sharks 14-2. Outside of a few rushes up ice, the Sharks hardly saw any decent scoring opportunities in the final period. The Kings game picked up with huge intensity and sustained that for the entire period, controlling the game in the Sharks defensive zone for almost 80 percent of the entire period. Niemi, who was well rested after a tough game this past Saturday night would need to have his best period of the post season for the Sharks to survive the Los Angeles onslaught. Niemi would turn away several Kings scoring chances and proved to be on top of his game. The Kings did get a power play goal with 10:14 remaining as Richards was able to stuff in a puck underneath Niemi who had reached out to make the save but could not hold onto the puck. The rest of the game was up to the Sharks defense and Niemi and neither disappointed as they may have bent, but they never broke. Couture and Marleau would get the only two shots on goal for the Sharks in the final period.The Kings threw everything including the kitchen sink at team teal in the final period, however the Sharks would make sure this was all the Kings would get on the evening.
Shark Bytes- The Three Stars of the Game were 3) Jonathan Quick (LA); 2) Antti Niemi, and 1) Joe Thornton. Logan Couture was featured on the NBC Sports Network after the game had ended and told NBCSN this “…is now a best of three series and it stands at 0-0 right now.” Sharks forward Tim Kennedy returned to the Sharks lineup in place of Marty Havlat, who left Game 3 after the first period with his second lower-body injury of the post season.
Next Sharks Game- Game 5: Thursday Night (5/23) Sharks @ LA Kings 7:30pm PT NBC Sports Net (USA); TSN (Canada); Sharks Radio Network (98.5FM San Jose/102.1FM San Francisco). Will the Sharks be able to steal a game in Los Angeles Thursday Evening? We shall find out.
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