The last time the Sharks trailed 4-0 in a game at Staples Center, they stormed back for a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 3 of their 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Kings. Tonight's four-zip deficit in L.A. didn't exactly produce the same result as the Sharks ended up dropping a 4-1 decision to their biggest rival, falling four standings points behind the Kings in the process. It was the team's eighth straight loss at Staples and the fifteen straight meeting between the Sharks and Kings that has ended with the road team tasting defeat.
But the loss, damaging as it was to San Jose's division title aspirations, was more or less overshadowed by what happened nineteen minutes into the first period as Dustin Brown kneed Tomas Hertl, knocking both players out of the game; Brown due to a misconduct and ejection and Hertl due to injury. Courtesy friend of the blog Thomas Drance at The Score, here's the requisite GIF of the play:
It might not have been a full-on Brown Light Special but it's hard to argue this was an unintentional collision just based on the player involved. Regardless, Brown was thrown out of the game and the Sharks awarded a five-minute power play cut short by a coincidental minor to Brent Burns for goaltender interference. They were still left with three minutes of score-as-much-as-you-want man-advantage time but struggled to generate anything outside of a chance by James Sheppard.
When asked about his team's response the last time one of their players was the victim of a cheap shot, Sharks coach Todd McLellan referred to his club's power play as a form of toughness. And despite the deluge of cries for the Sharks to exact physical vengeance on the Kings for their indiscretions (because I'm sure Mike Brown punching Jordan Nolan's face a bunch of times would have solved everything), McLellan is absolutely right. The problem is that while the Sharks' power play came through for them in St. Louis when Maxim Lapierre boarded Dan Boyle, it let them down tonight. They had a golden opportunity to establish a one- or two-goal lead to start the second period and blew it.
Their five-on-five game was somewhat more encouraging for stretches but when the Sharks generated quality looks at even-strength, like this slam-dunk wraparound from Tommy Wingels, goaltender Martin Jones was there. On the other side of the ice, the Kings scored on seemingly every grade-A chance they had in addition to a couple of grade-D chances; Alec Martinez's harmless point shot appeared to deflect off Joe Pavelski and past Antti Niemi while a Tyler Toffoli wrister from the outside during a bad Sharks line change was one Niemi should have had. It all added up to yet another loss in a building the Sharks mercifully won't visit for the rest of the regular season but almost certainly will need to win a game or two in this spring to get where they want to go. While the story in L.A. right now surrounds a dude named Jones, the Sharks are left wondering if they'll ever again notch a victory in their very own Temple Of Doom.
- I almost started this recap with "On a night when Martin Jones stoned the rest of the Sharks, Patrick Marleau scored his 420th career goal." So there you go.
- Per David Pollak, the Sharks are unsurprisingly mum on the details of Hertl's knee injury so far. It goes without saying that his long-term health is the priority and the team shouldn't rush him back into the lineup.
- One of the many concerning aspects about the Hertl injury is that I'm not entirely sure the Sharks will be able to recall Matt Nieto from San Francisco due to the holiday roster freeze which lasts until December 27th. The CBA wording is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to injury replacements during this period so it's hard to say with certainty. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
- Turns out this tweet from the Kings' official feed shortly after Jonathan Quick was signed to a ten-year extension last summer was correct after all. They were just referring to the wrong goalie:
To clarify, that's 10 years after next year -- so 11 years in total of our goaltender being better than yours.— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 28, 2012
- Arenas around the league really ought to cue up Yakety Sax for use every time Scott Hannan and Brad Stuart attempt to start a breakout when paired together. They were dreadful and I'm still at a loss to explain why a smart, meticulous coaching staff makes this huge a mistake on a regular basis.