The Sharks are moving on to the second round after a three-goal third period propelled San Jose past L.A.
All season long, head coach Peter DeBoer talked about how this was a different San Jose Sharks team.
On Friday night at Staples Center, the Sharks showed the hockey world they are indeed a different group in teal.
San Jose jumped on the Los Angeles Kings from the get-go in Game 5, withstood a furious second-period rally from L.A., before putting forth a huge effort in the third period as the Sharks defeated the Kings 6-3 to win this series 4-1 to send team teal to the second round for the first time since 2013.
The Sharks played the perfect road period in the opening 20 minutes as San Jose put the pressure right on the shoulders of L.A. Joonas Donskoi would give team teal the lead just 1:08 into the game as he made a beautiful toe-drag on the right wing and fired one past Jonathan Quick for his first career playoff goal.
San Jose then had a huge opportunity to put the Kings behind the eight-ball, receiving a 5-on-3 for 1:45 seconds just minutes after the Donskoi goal. Unfortunately, the boys couldn’t capitalize but the Sharks were still all over L.A.
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They would double their lead just past the midway point of the first when it was Chris Tierney’s turn to get his first-ever playoff goal as he skated down the right wing, cut to the middle and beat Quick far side in similar spot as Donskoi’s. Just like that, San Jose had a 2-0 lead and the life was sucked right out of Staples Center as the Sharks outshot the Kings 13-4 in the first period.
The game would get turned around in the middle frame as many feared another Sharks collapse was in the works. San Jose continued to frustrate L.A. as Couture, Joel Ward and Matt Nieto did a great job of cycling the puck in the Kings end before Ward made a nifty, backhand pass for an easy tap-in for Nieto as the Sharks had a 3-0 lead at the 4:05 mark of the second.
Then, a momentum shift would occur when Patrick Marleau was awarded a penalty shot after blowing past Jake Muzzin in the neutral zone. Marleau’s backhand, chip attempt over Quick would be denied and the Kings would hold on to a glimmer of hope.
L.A. would use a flukey bounce to get right back into the game when a Drew Doughty shot from the point, that was going about five feet wide, ricocheted off the foot of Dwight King and off the shin of Anze Kopitar past Martin Jones to give the Kings a glimpse of life.
Less than four minutes later, the lead was cut down to one when Justin Braun lost track of Jeff Carter in front who roofed one past Jones and the crowd was fully engaged once more. They would lose their minds at the 16:36 mark when a Kyle Clifford one-timer deflected off Ward and hit the post before bouncing right to Kris Versteeg who deposited the puck into the gaping net to knot things up at three after 40 minutes of play.
But the resiliency of this Sharks group would shine through as San Jose came out in the third and got the job done. It all started with a great rush down the left wing from Donskoi who held off Doughty before shuffling the puck to the front of the net. There, Brent Burns made a nice backhand dish to Donskoi who came from behind the net and scored the eventual series-clinching goal at the 3:58 mark of the third.
With San Jose grabbing the lead back, it was time to add some insurance and who else but Joe Pavelski answered the bell. Pavelski took an outlet feed from Burns, faked a shot and fired one between the legs of Quick for a back-breaking goal.
From then on, the Sharks defense did a great job of limiting any Kings attack as L.A. could only muster four shots on goal in the final period. Melker Karlsson would add the final icing on the cake, hitting the empty-net with 22 seconds remaining to send the fans to the parking lot as San Jose was moving on.
It was quite a thrilling night of hockey for these Sharks who battled back once again and showed why this team can go a long way.
San Jose can finally put the questions about 2014 behind them as they were able to exorcise some of their demons from the past by dispatching the Kings.