Staples Jinx Continues
The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from history, while the San Jose Sharks are one loss away from infamy.
The Kings scored three goals in a 2:46 span in the later half of the third period as they defeated Team Teal 4-1 in Game 6 of the best of seven series. The Kings’ win is their third straight after Team Teal had won the first three games of the series. With the win, the Kings force a seventh and deciding game at the Shark Tank Wednesday night with the winning team to meet Anaheim in the second round of the post season.
The Sharks started Alex Stalock in goal in place of the slumping Antti Niemi and for the most part, Stalock held his own. Stalock made 26 saves on the night with the majority coming before LA’s late explosion. The loss cannot be blamed in Stalock as Team Teal missed several chances to cash in on great scoring opportunities.
In the second period the Sharks had three power plays in a row which included 1:38 of a 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period. With the two-man advantage, the Sharks only managed two shots on goal as LA’s penalty kill was on top of their game. Joe Pavelski’s shot on goal was the only shot that really had any chance; otherwise the Sharks weren’t even close.
Overall, just another outing gone wrong in the end for the Sharks even though they were in this game for much longer than in Game 5.
The Kings took the lead with 8:04 remaining in the third period when Justin Williams was able to stuff a puck under Stalock after taking a feed pass from Robyn Regehr.
The puck slipped under Stalock’s leg pads and crossed the goal line before Matt Irwin could try to knock the rubber biscuit back to the Sharks goalie. The official behind the net was ready to blow the play dead when he saw the puck in the net and ruled the goal to be good. Things quickly went down hill for Team Teal afterward as Anze Kopitar would score twice in 75 seconds to put Game 6 out of reach as the Sharks defensively just fell apart.
There were several fisticuffs afterward including a surprising one where Logan Couture took on Michael Richards. By the time the final horn had sounded about half of the Sharks roster had taken game misconduct penalties rather than watch the end of what ended up being another Teal disaster.
James Sheppard scored the Sharks only goal of the game in the second period tipping in a slap shot from Justin Braun. Sheppard’s goal was the first Sharks goal in over 90 minutes of playing time and the only puck that would get by Jonathan Quick. The Los Angeles net minder made 29 saves on the evening.
The Kings drew first blood in at 5:09 of the first period when Williams took a feed pass from Drew Doughty and slammed it into the net on a shot that Stalock had no chance on.
Game 6 Analysis
There is not really that much more to analyze here than there was in Game 5.
The Sharks overall did play a better game and put out a better effort, yet in the end got the same results. The story for the Sharks here were the huge missed opportunities they had to tie the game or even take a lead in the second period. With just over nine minutes remaining in the third period Matt Nieto just missed giving the Sharks a lead as his shot on goal off of a Kings turnover sailed over the net.
The Sharks have been badly outplayed in five periods over the last three games and now are facing a win or go home Game 7 situation as the result. At least the Sharks do not have to go to Staples Center anymore as Game 7 is at the Shark Tank. However, when you are leading a series 3-0, it’s probably wise not to allow the series to get to a seventh game.
Three years ago, the Sharks won the first three games in a playoff series versus the Detroit Red Wings only to drop the next three. The Sharks won a close Game 7, 3-2. However the Sharks had no gas in the tank after the series. Team Teal has home ice here which is a plus, but the Kings have the momentum having outscored the Sharks 13-4 over the last three games. It’s also a toss-up on who will start in goal as Niemi has not played well in this series, and Stalock, despite being strong in net, lacks a degree of experience.
The Sharks have quite the dilemma ahead of them as they have just one last chance to advance here. The Sharks to win Game 7 must be willing to raise their games as team to a level that can get the job done. They have to get back to what made them successful in the first two games and be able to make the necessary adjustments to counter what the Kings have done.
If not, they will become a part of history that could take years for this franchise to live down or even recover from. The Sharks will go down one of two paths after Wednesday. Hopefully it will be one that takes this franchise further. If not, the offseason will be the coldest one since 2008-09. The Sharks team and franchise will have to own this one way or the other.
Wednesday Night (4/30) at the Shark Tank. The puck drops at 7pm PDT. The game can be seen on CSNCA, NBCSN, CBC. The game can also be heard along the Sharks Radio Network .
Tags: San Jose Sharks