The story of the game this morning is going to be Erik Karlsson’s hit on Austin Wagner and it should be. This morning, the Department of Player Safety will have a hearing with Karlsson to determine if he will be suspended for a hit that concussed Wagner. While I think everyone who sees the hit will say Karlsson didn’t aim or intend to hit Wagner’s head, it’s still the kind of hit the NHL is looking to get out of the game. We’ll see what happens.
As for a look at the game itself, keep reading.
This year’s Los Angeles Kings are much different than the Kings of years past. They are mired in hockey’s cellar after clinging too long to the old NHL. The newer and faster NHL has skated circles around the Kings and it has shown up in the standings, where the Kings sit dead last as of this morning.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that yesterday’s afternoon game at the Shark Tank should have been two points in the bank for the Sharks. Instead, the Sharks took the afternoon off and figured winning the game would be like flipping a switch.
Take a look at the possession numbers from Natural Stat Trick:
You’ll notice the Kings controlled play in all situations in the first period, but the Sharks began to take the game over in the second period. The trouble is that once they started to get shots on net, they ran into Jonathan Quick. While he’s having a horrible season — a 3-8-2 record with a 3.16 Goals Against Average (GAA) and .897 Save Percentage (SV%) — Quick is still a top-caliber goalie. He made 29 saves yesterday, good enough for a .935 SV%.
The Sharks received strong goaltending of their own, despite really hanging Martin Jones out to dry. He made 28 saves and earned a .903 SV%.
In the first period, the Kings came out ready to play and the Sharks needed a little time to get their game going. L.A. received a power play early in the period and the Kings made it count. Ilya Kovalchuck scored his first goal since returning from injury with a little help from Jake Muzzin and Alex Iafallo and just like that it was 1-0 Kings.
The Sharks made a brief attempt to tie things up, but could not match the Kings’ intensity. At the 9:07 mark of the first, Jones was forced to make a save on a partial Dustin Brown breakaway to keep it at 1-0.
That’s how the first 20 minutes ended, and the Sharks were lucky to head to the locker room down one.
The second period started out with the Sharks playing a little better than the first. A few minutes in, there was that infamous Karlsson hit, but since no penalties were handed out, it didn’t really impact the game.
At the 9:09 mark it looked like Oscar Fatenberg had made it 2-0 Kings, but Head Coach Pete DeBoer was quick to challenge, claiming goalie interference. The refs agreed and the score was back to 1-0.
It looked like the Sharks would have the chance to get things tied up when Jeff Carter was called for tripping Karlsson. The Sharks headed to the power play and all I can say is yuck. The Sharks got called for icing and the Kings tied up the neutral zone. San Jose ended up spending just as much time in their defensive zone as they played in the Kings’ zone.
The second period ended just like the first, with the Kings winning 1-0.
In the third, the Kings decided to put a little more pressure on the Sharks. Iaffalo scored an undeniable goal and went five-hole on Jones. Jones did all that he could, but when your teammates allow the opponents time and space to make plays, bad things happen.
It seemed to be the “oh, crap” moment for the Sharks, who suddenly realized they could lose the game. San Jose started to turn things around and at the 10:18 mark they finally beat Jonathan Quick.
It's not over yet! pic.twitter.com/Qipp69gc5B— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 22, 2018
Karlsson passed the puck to Lukas Radil at the blueline and Radil entered the Kings zone. He used the boards behind the Quick to bank the puck to Meier at the other side of the ice. Radil immediately went toward the net. Meier settled the puck and then passed it to Radil, who tapped it home.
As with the past few games, it was up to Jones to make some key saves in order to keep the Sharks in the game. The best one, was when he stopped Anze Kopitar from point blank range.
Martin Jones appreciation tweet. pic.twitter.com/5SDLlzUaYr— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 22, 2018
Though Jones stood tall, time started to run out for the Sharks. With less than two minutes remaining, DeBoer pulled Jones and the hoped his stars could get the job done. With just 31 seconds remaining, Captain Joe Pavelski came through in the clutch and scored his 23rd of the season.
Empty net, full heart, tie game. OT baby, OT. pic.twitter.com/9PMzKe9idf— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) December 22, 2018
Pavs won the faceoff in the Kings’ zone and fed it back to Karlsson. Karlsson passed the puck along the blueline to Brent Burns, who fired it wide of the net looking for the tip. Pavelski was happy to oblidge, tapping it past an unsuspecting Quick and tying things up at two.
The Sharks held on to send it to overtime. Both teams had a few chances, but it was the Kings who played better.
Evander Kane took a shot on net that went well wide. The puck ricocheted off the end boards and out to center ice where Kovalchuk chased down the puck. He went in alone and beat Jones for the 3-2 win.
Sharks earned a point where they shouldn’t have.
Finally, super cute pick of the game is the newest addition to the Burns family, Olivia. It was her first time watching her daddy play.
Welcome to the Tank baby Olivia! pic.twitter.com/Hgwvb7jnk1— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 23, 2018