San Jose has now conceded a power play goal in each of the first three games of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings played an even, straight up hockey game in Game 3 as neither team conceded an inch. At even strength, the Sharks have been the better team through the first three contests, even though the Kings resembled the stifling defensive unit they’ve been known for.
Despite that, San Jose has outscored L.A. by a 5-2 margin at even strength including surrendering just 14 shots at 5-on-5 last night, although the Kings were able to find the game-winner from Tanner Pearson early in overtime.
However, the one area where the Sharks struggled in Game 3 was in the special teams department which allowed the Kings to avoid going into a 3-0 series hole against team teal once again.
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After Joe Thornton staked San Jose to an early 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the contest, the Sharks took some ill-advised penalties which allowed the Kings to settle into the game and help wrestle momentum from the home team.
Anze Kopitar would tie things up on the power play as L.A. has now gone 3-for-11 thus far, scoring a man advantage goal in each game. Kopitar nearly made it 2-for-2 as he ringed one off the post on their second extra-man attack of the night as the Kings whipped the puck around all night.
While San Jose struggled on the penalty kill throughout the year, ranking 21st in the league in that category, the Sharks need to stay out of the box and kill off the chances their opponents do get. Their defense has been rock solid in giving the Kings virtually nothing at 5-on-5, but giving L.A. a goal per game on the power play will spell trouble if the trend continues.
On the flip side, the Sharks dangerous power play of their own failed to capitalize in key moments which came back to bite them at the end of the night. San Jose went 0-for-5, including two missed opportunities in the third period.
While they still look potent, the Sharks have yet to defeat the Kings this season when they’ve failed to score a power play goal, going 0-for-14 in their three losses. Team teal will continue to get plenty of looks and they must bear down on their chances when they present themselves, especially on home ice where it seems the energy in the building drops when they can’t get anything going.
Despite last night’s loss, there is still plenty to like about the Sharks position and overall game through the first portion of this series.
If they can turn the special teams battle in their favor beginning in Game 4, San Jose should be just fine when all is said and done.