It was supposed to be a clean, easy, boring win for the San Jose Sharks. Through the first 20 minutes of their game against the Los Angeles Kings, they’d played like the better team, kept the pace of play slow and had a 1-0 lead to boot, thanks to an absolute laser of a shot from Erik Karlsson.
But even as they leave Staples Center with the two points they wanted, there was nothing clean, easy or boring about the way the Sharks got them. Thanks to a lackluster defensive effort and a parade of trips to the penalty box, San Jose surrendered a 3-0 lead in the final 21:01 minutes of hockey, and it took an overtime rescue from Patrick Marleau to end the madness.
Even after the Sharks gave Los Angeles a few extra chances in the offensive zone in the early going, there didn’t seem to be any cause for alarm. Martin Jones was having a fine night in net and Timo Meier owned the Kings for a brief moment of magic during the second period, starting with a shot through the moving screen left by Alec Martinez.
Just over a minute later, Meier was left completely unguarded on a rush and Brenden Dillon took full advantage, drawing Jonathan Quick and his puck watching defense out of position. By the time Dillon fed Timo the puck, all he had in front of him was a yawning cage.
But that’s where the fun stopped for a while. The Kings took over the momentum late in the second, starting with Adrian Kempe working a nifty passing play with “noted real player who exists” Blake Lizotte and scoring in the final minute. Then the Kings dominated the third frame and tied the game, thanks to a Dustin Brown tip in midway through the period and a Kopitar rebound four minutes later.
The Sharks nearly gave away the game entirely with a minute to go after a miscue led to a too many men penalty, but after it expired in overtime Kevin Lebanc was able to move the puck up the ice before fanning on his shot attempt. But the try was enough to pull Quick way out of his crease to challenge, and the trailing Marleau was able to sneak by unopposed, pick up the loose change and deposit it into the back of the net.
The nights where Martin Jones has been the best Shark on the ice have been far and few between over the last few years, but tonight’s game was certainly one of them. Jones ended up with 33 saves on the evening, including a bunch of game saving stops in the third period.
Was tonight a perfect win for the Sharks over a basement dwelling Kings team? Not in the slightest. But the extra point puts San Jose in a playoff spot for the first time all season, and just two points behind the Canucks for third place in the Pacific. This game proved there’s still a lot of work ahead, but they’re trending in the right direction at the right time.
Hello everybody! Lach in the Crease here, ready for the adventure that is the San Jose/Los Angeles rivalry. Tomas Hertl once again won’t play, Lukas Radil and Noah Gregor are scratched, Tim Heed and Melker Karlsson draw back in and the Sharks stick with the 11F-7D lineup card. Let’s do this!
20:00: Martin Jones in goal to our left, Jonathan Quick in goal to our right. Let’s do that hockey!
16:30: So far we’ve had multiple icing calls, a bunch of bad passes and absolutely no shots on goal. This is shaping up to be a real barnburner, eh?
14:07: SCORRRRES!!! Erik Karlsson with a beauty of a shot over the glove hand of Quick for his third goal of the season, and the Sharks draw first blood!
12:29: Karlsson’s goal seems to have energized the Sharks. Some actual pressure in the LA zone and now a “too much man” call on the Kings. Power play time!
10:09: Kings kill it off and then finally get their first shot of the game… it was basically a dump in that happened to land on Martin Jones’ stick, but they’ll get a participation trophy for it anyway.
7:00: I have no clue why the Sharks and Kings have decided that the dump and chase strategy is their friend. It’s like neither coach understands how slow their forwards are. Do yourself a favour Sharks, and hold on to the dang puck.
3:00: Uhhhh guys? Maybe don’t let the Kings hem you in the defensive zone for long periods of time? Just a suggestion.
2:46: The Kings organist just played the Futurama theme song. Full marks, man.
2:21: Sharks giveaway, but Vlasic hustles back and ties up Dustin Brown to break up an LA scoring chance. You love to see it.
2:06: Radim Simek gets the gate for hooking Blake Lizotte, and the Sharks are on the penalty kill.
1:00: Adrian Kempe rips a one timer and Jones reads it perfectly. The Kings best chance of the game but the goaltending comes up big. More of that please.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Kings 0
Sharks kill off the penalty, the horn sounds and San Jose goes to the locker room with the lead. Now I’m gonna go get some highly caffeinated cold brew to help make it through the last 40 minutes of this game.
20:00: Cause baby now we got Bad Blood, let’s get this game going again. Second period underway.
19:09: Can now confirm Drew Doughty is still doing Drew Doughty things in 2019-20. He heads to the box for slashing, and the Sharks head to the power play!
16:22: Power play comes up empty handed, but now Brenden Dillon trips Lizotte and the PK unit hops over the boards.
13:12: IT’S TIMOOO TIIIIIME! Timo Meier gets a great feed from Kevin Lebanc and shoots through a screen to double the Sharks lead. He’ll never go out of Style.
11:15: ANOTHA ONE!!! The Kings don’t learn their lesson, Meier is left wide open far side and taps home the Dillon pass. 3-0 Sharks!
8:00: Those Meier goals seem to have unravelled the Kings. It’s pretty jarring to think about how this team was a Cup champion only six seasons ago. Everything Has Changed.
6:14: Dylan Gambrell hooks Michael Amadio and the Sharks have their third penalty kill of the night. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, guys.
3:22: The Sharks kill off another one and their league best PK keeps on climbing. I don’t think many people even in their Wildest Dreams saw this storyline coming before the season started.
1:01: Kings score. Adrian Kempe gets around Barclay Goodrow and puts home the feed from Lizotte, and the Sharks aren’t Out Of The Woods yet. 3-1 San Jose.
END SECOND: Sharks 3, Kings 1
The buzzer sounds, and the Sharks have a two goal lead going into the final frame. San Jose did a good job of capitalizing on the few chances they got, but the Kings seemed to find their stride later in the period. The momentum is in the Kings’ favour right now, but there’s always a Delicate balance with those sorts of emotional swings. Now everybody go grab their dessert of choice and meet back here for round three in 20 minutes.
20:00: Forty minutes down, twenty to go. Are You Ready For It?
18:56: Right off the bat we get one of the more sloppy sequences I’ve seen so far tonight. Call It What You Want, but this game has not been a pretty one to watch.
17:33: Ben Hutton sighting on the broadcast. To be totally honest I Forgot That You Existed up until now. Sorry, Ben.
13:12: The Sharks defensive game implodes slightly and Jones is forced to make a bunch of huge stops. With 27 saves so far on the night, he’s The Man of the game right now.
11:29: Kings score. All that pressure was bound to come back and bite the Sharks, and sure enough Dustin Brown deflects the Iafallo shot to make this a one goal hockey game. Sharks need to Shake It Off fast if they don’t want this very winnable game to slip away from them.
9:10: Marcus Sorensen Did Something Bad. He trips Tyler Toffoli right off the faceoff, and the Sharks have a very crucial penalty kill on the way. Also thoughts to Alec Martinez, cause absolutely no one wants or deserves a skate to the face.
7:08: Tie game. Anze Kopitar whacks home a rebound to make it a three apiece. And So It Goes...
4:21: The Sharks finally get some pressure going in the offensive zone, only to end up icing the puck right after. If I’m the Sharks, You Need To Calm Down and stop trying to force passes and plays that aren’t there. I know the lead disappeared but they’re a good enough team that if they let the play flow instead of rushing it, they’ll have a easier time getting chances.
1:04: Too many men. Kings power play with just over a minute left. All You Had To Do Was Stay on the bench until Jumbo got back on, but it’s too late for that now. Pray to the hockey gods, everyone.
END THIRD: Sharks 3, Kings 3
Well, that period felt like Death By A Thousand Cuts. To overtime we go.
5:00: We’re officially entering End Game. 4-on-3 time.
4:04: The Kings’ power play officially ends, and now we’re back to the usual 3-on-3 setup for the extra frame.
2:25: SCOOOOOOOOOOOORES!!! Patrick Marleau wins it in overtime! A couple wild bounces in front of the net, Marleau sees Daylight as he snags the loose puck and the Sharks survive a scare at the hands of the Kings with a 4-3 victory!!!
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 4, Kings 3
Everybody breathe, we made it through this roller coaster of an evening. It definitely wasn’t the Clean win the Sharks wanted, but they manage to hold on for the overtime win. Thank you for following along, I’ve been Lach in the Crease, and I promise that you’ll never have another liveblogger like ME! Hope you’ll join us in the Afterglow with our game recap coming up shortly.
Is it really a rivalry if one team has won nearly 60 percent of the contests between the two teams? That’s what the San Jose Sharks have done in winning the 23 regular-season matchups since the Los Angeles Kings hoisted Lord Stanley’s cup in June of 2014.
The Sharks have skated away with 13 wins from the 23 games these teams have played against each other since the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. Of San Jose’s losses, three were in overtime. If the coin flipped the other way those three times, you’re looking at a “rivalry” that’s gone the way of tonight’s visiting team 69 percent of the time.
As the similarly built Kings have aged and failed to replace their older stars, the Sharks have mostly kept up with the pack, notching a Cup Final visit and Western Conference Final trip in the years since. Tonight, the teams find themselves in close confines standing-wise for the first time in what feels like forever.
The teams both sport a negative goal differential, have been in the bottom half of the division standings all season, and can’t buy a win away from home. From there, the two teams’ forms diverge. Whereas the Sharks are heading back in the wrong direction after a strong six-game sample, the Kings seem to be picking up steam.
If these two teams pass each other like ships in the night tonight, it could spell doom for the visiting side. Leading the way during this inspired spell for Los Angeles have been its second-line tandem Jeff Carter and and Tyler Toffoli. Flanked occasionally by either Michael Amadio or Carl Grundstrom, the two forwards have been on the ice for about 60 percent of all 5-on-5 shots and about 56 percent of all expected goals.
The bottom of the Los Angeles lineup has pitched in, too. Old friend Joakim Ryan and defense partner Matt Roy have been equally impressive during the team’s hot five-game stretch. And, while the top of the lineup—guys like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Dustin Brown—haven’t been playing as well, familiar face Todd McLellan has his team mostly performing well at 5-on-5, even if they don’t have the standings points to show for it.
As good as the Kings’ penalty kill has been, their power play has been just as poor. San Jose should be able to capitalize on man-advantage situations relative to their opponents.
It appears old TMac will try to match up defense pair Doughty and Sean Walker and/or his first line of Kopitar, Brown, and Alexander Iafallo on the Sharks’ top two lines. That top pair has played well offensively, even as they’ve been about average on defense. The first line has been just average. The Sharks top-six forward group will have to take advantage of a matchup that should go their way if the team wants to steal a road win out from under their ex-rivals.
The Carter—Toffoli pair has been excellent at 5-on-5 all season, and the team’s middle defense pair of Alex Martinez and Ben Hutton has produced offense at a high level. If San Jose can’t win the big-on-big matchups tonight, the middle of their lineup might get torn apart.
Sharks (Projected, per Sheng Peng)
Note that Melker Karlsson may play on the team’s fourth line, depending on how warmups go. Tomas Hertl traveled with the team but will miss another game.
Expected Scratches: Tomas Hertl (LBI), Lukas Radil
Alexander Iafallo—Anze Kopitar–Dustin Brown
Carl Grundstrom—Jeff Carter—Tyler Toffoli
Austin Wagner—Blake Lizotte—Adrian Kempe
Kyle Clifford—Michael Amadio—Nikolai Prokhorkin
Sean Walker—Drew Doughty
Ben Hutton–Alec Martinez
Joakim Ryan—Matt Roy
Expected Scratches: (mostly injury related, per Jon Rosen): Kurtis MacDermaid, Ilya Kovalchuk (healthy), Derek Forbort, Trevor Lewis
Where to watch
The puck will drop around 7:30 pm PST / 10:30 pm EST or shortly thereafter from Staples Center. If you’d like to watch this battle of California welterweights, tune in via SportsNet, Fox Sports-W in the L.A. area, or NBCSCA back in the Bay. NHL.TV will carry the game pending blackout restrictions, and you can listen via 98.5 KFOX on the FM radio.
Check back here later for up-to-the-every-few-minutes-updates!