In a game marked by comebacks, the Sharks showed extraordinary discipline in a 4-3 win over the Kings on Thursday night. After what could have been an absolutely deflating shorthanded goal put Los Angeles up 3-2 in the second period, the Sharks answered right back — exactly what they've done all season long. Tomas Hertl's goal serves as just one example of San Jose's brilliant resilience in game one of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I love this Sharks team because of plays like this. The Kings score a monumentally huge goal to go up and the Sharks get right back to work. Hertl scores a classic Hertl goal — with him standing in front of the net, trying to make something happen. He didn't score the game-winning goal, but he absolutely scored a game-saver for the Sharks who did not have to chase the game entering the third period.
Hertl's goal may be the epitome of the attitude I'm talking about, but beyond this tally what impressed me the most about the Sharks play on Thursday was their resolve. Milan Lucic came on to the ice and started going after Marc-Edouard Vlasic right from the get go — and it never seemed to bother the Sharks a bit. He aggravated, he hit late and he chirped all to no avail. San Jose isn't buying the particular brand of crap that he's selling. I love that.
A quick whistle wiped a Sharks goal off the board early in the contest but San Jose kept battling. The Sharks controlled possession play throughout the game, and despite a few bounces going against them, San Jose never seemed rattled by it. I know we come to expect these things from professional athletes, but I can't help but be impressed by how resilient, and how dominant, this Sharks team is.
Beyond the win, a crucial victory on the road, San Jose outplayed the Kings. Sure, Los Angeles got its hits in, leading in that category by a 36-32 margin, but the Sharks led the Kings in score-adjusted fenwick 49-41. Joe Pavelski's goal 10 seconds into the third period proved a clear blessing for the Sharks, but San Jose chose to sit on that lead for the majority of the third period. If there's one area of the game I'd like to see San Jose clean up, it's there — that might work against the Arizona Coyotes of the world, but it won't always work against the Kings.
Still, the Sharks came from behind not once, but twice to beat their arch rival in a game San Jose was the underdog in. They didn't do it by luck or by accident, they absolutely deserved it. That's the kind of win that'll endear a team to its fans — and it's the kind of win that gets you believing the Sharks can rattle off three more in this series.
Let's enjoy this one. The nerves get going again tomorrow.