Pushed to The Brink- Goals from Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov book-ended between the end of the second and beginning of the third periods combined with 24 rather routine looking saves by Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick lifted Los Angeles to a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Game 5 win for the Kings in this Western Conference Semi-Final Series gives the Kings a 3-2 series lead as the defending Stanley Cup Champions did not disappoint a sell out crowd at the Staples Center. Quick picked up his second shut out of the series as he also blanked the Sharks in Game 1 over a week ago. The Sharks from the onset seemed to be out of sinc and never found their game in what turned out to be another long evening at the Staples Center. The Sharks had three power play opportunities in the game and on each one not only failed to even come close to scoring, but allowed the Kings a short handed scoring chance on each of the three opportunities. The Sharks now head back to San Jose and look towards Game 6 and defending their home ice with the objective of forcing a seventh game in Los Angeles this next Tuesday.
Choppy Waters- In the opening period the Kings carried the majority of the play as about a good 70 to 75 percent or more of the period was played in the Sharks defensive zone. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi make key saves early while his counterpart Quick was barely challenged at all. The Kings outshot the Sharks 9-6 in the opening period, and repeated this in the second period outshooting team teal again by a 9-5 margin. The Sharks continued to struggle with puck possession in second period and had very few scoring opportunities to speak of. One of their best chances of the entire evening was on their only break away of the game, a two on one opportunity with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau leading the way. Couture managed to get the feed pass to Marleau, who then could only watch a Quick stoned him once again.
The Sharks were also mistake prone in the second period and turned over the puck in front of Niemi three times. Luckily for the Sharks at that point of the game it was still 0-0 as the Kings missed a few point blank opportunities. However the Sharks luck would eventually run dry as they were just never able to sustain any meaningful possessions of the puck or offensive attacks. Kopitar’s goal with just 1:52 remaining in the second period came as the Sharks looking like a tired group and not able to clear the puck away from their defensive zone. Kyle Clifford launched a hard shot that hit Niemi and bounced over to Kopitar, who was able to gather the rebound and knock it off Niemi’s skate and into the net. It didn’t help that Matt Irwin had accidentally knocked Niemi’s stick out of his hands before Clifford launched his slap shot from the right point. Soon after the Kings took the lead TJ Galiardi would called for goalie interference. The penalty came with 1:10 remaining in the second period and ultimately would overlap into the third.
Things Just Never Got Any Better- The Sharks luck in Game 5 was so bad, that they would actually go on to kill off Galiardi’s penalty and it still wouldn’t matter. Just as the penalty had expired, the Sharks were beaten on a faceoff inside their defensive zone and paid dearly for it. Trevor Lewis won the faceoff over the normally reliable Joe Thornton and got the puck over to Voynov. From there Voynov would drill the puck past Niemi, and in one rapid fire sequence to all but put the game away. Despite still having over 19 minutes of the period to play, the rest of the period for the Sharks was just an exercise in frustration and lack of focus. Quick was busier in the third period than the first two periods put together, but not to the extent that Niemi was busy in the final period of Game 4. Quick stoned Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, and even James Sheppard or any other Sharks’ player who managed to get his name in the infamous box score. Jeff Carter scored the final Kings goal putting one into an empty Sharks net with 28 seconds remaining as the Sharks pulled Niemi for a sixth attacker. The way the evening was going, the Sharks could have put the whole bench on the ice and it probably would not have mattered. The story of Game 5 was the Sharks simply lacking the proper focus and in the end getting decidedly owned by a better team on this particular evening.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were all from the LA Kings, 3) Drew Doughty, 2) Anze Kopitar and 1) Jonathan Quick (again). Quick has been at least one of the three stars in four of the five games of this series. Jason Demers played his first game of the post season for the Sharks. Ever since Dan Boyle’s goal early in the 2nd Period of Game 4, the Sharks have gone over 96 minutes without scoring….
Next Sharks Game- Game 6: Sharks vs the Los Angeles Kings at the Shark Tank on Sunday May 26th. The game will either be a 5pm PT or 7pm PT to be determined by the outcome of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh playoff game late Friday afternoon-early evening (West Coast time). Whenever it begins, the Sharks know their season is officially on the line now and are in a must win situation. The Sharks won both Game’s 3 and 4 at the Shark Tank, both “must wins”. The only games left in this series for the Sharks are “must wins.” I did predict the Sharks in 7, but to get their the Sharks must take care of business in Game 6. If they do, they will force a seventh and deciding game in Los Angeles this next Tuesday. The last thing the Kings’ want is a Game 7, regardless of where it is. However as the old saying goes, “First things first!”. The Sharks must take care of business in Game 6 first.
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