The San Jose Sharks, in the end not, only did not realize their dream to win the Stanley Cup, but they frankly never came close.
The Los Angeles Kings once again dominated the Sharks when it mattered the most. The Kings dominated and controlled the later part of Game 7 in route to a 5-1 win. The Kings move on to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks meanwhile move on to a long and bitter offseason with very heavy-handed questions not only about the team but likely about the franchise too. This was a stinging defeat for Team Teal as they become the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead and fall victim to a “reverse sweep.” The Sharks were outscored 18-5 in the last four games and decided beaten in Games 4 through 7. The Sharks big players were shut down again in Game 7 as the franchise has hit a new low that may take many seasons to overcome as changes may be imminent. In the end, the Sharks only have themselves to blame. In the end, the Kings were simply the better team over a seven game series.
The Kings have beaten Team Teal in a seven games for the second straight season.
Game 7 Recap
After a scoreless first period, Matt Irwin gave the Sharks the lead with his first career playoff goal 28 seconds into the second stanza.
That would be the end of the Sharks highlights as the rest of the game went the Kings’ way. The Kings tied the game at 1-1 after Drew Doughty scored a power play goal following a controversial elbowing penalty to Logan Couture. Team Teal in the second period had four power play chances and failed to score each time as the Jonathan Quick was on his game. Anze Kopitar scored to put the Kings ahead for good as he backhanded a puck past Antti Niemi with 1:28 remaining in the middle frame.
In the third period, it was all Los Angeles again as the Sharks needing their best 20 minutes of hockey just didn’t have it. Tyler Tofolli, who was one of many Kings players who were a thorn in the side of the Sharks in this series, scored 4:40 into the third period to put LA up 3-1. The Sharks spent most of the period chasing down pucks and fighting for their dying season in vain. Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson scored empty net goals in the games final moments to complete the Kings historical comeback coinciding with the Sharks historical fall.
Quick made 39 saves as the Kings left no doubt.
The Sharks, with this series loss, are guaranteed a spot in the record books that will stain this franchise for quite some time, and sadly rightfully so.
As to where the franchise even goes from here is anybody’s guess. The Kings, like it or not, in the end, were simply the better team. All truth be told, if not for a tipped in goal in overtime of Game 3 the Kings wrap this series in six games. Whatever the Sharks did in the first two games of this series just did not last. Team Teal never got back to what worked. The Kings made the adjustments they needed to make, the Sharks did not. The Sharks were progressively worse with each game from four through seven.
Todd McLellan in the post game presser took responsibility for the loss and agreed this was the low point in franchise history. It is the lowest point in franchise history without question. There are no questions or answers that will come easy from here on. The Sharks right now are light years from a Stanley Cup Championship. This team as it as it is constructed right now simply is not a championship team or anything close to a Cup Contender. Team Teal as a roster does not have the collective ability to raise their game as a team to the level necessary to maintain any level of success in the playoffs. If anything, they played as if they are by far the lesser of the three NHL franchises in the state of California. There were way too many missed opportunities in the last two games alone. To conclude, greatness starts at the top. For the Sharks it may not be wait until next year. It may be wait until next owner and GM.