Sharks start strong, finish sloppy, still win
The Sharks in the first period. Wow... just... wow. Have you ever seen a more dominant performance in a period?
Well, um, until the Kings in the third.
Yes, the Sharks almost let this one get away from them despite dominating the Kings in every fashion through forty minutes en route to a 15-3 advantage on the shot clock in the first and a 21-9 advantage through two. However, although that crazy advantage led to a two goal lead headed into the third period, the Sharks almost lost control of this one late.
That's not to say that the Sharks weren't the better team tonight. San Jose, led by Joe Thornton, was an absolutely dominant squad for the majority of the evening. The score ended up 2-1, but it could have been 3, 4, 5, or 10 goals for the Sharks if not for the heroics of Jonathan Quick. He's a bit of a baby, especially when he's losing, but he's a great player who's led LA in this series. As I said in the pre game, this series could be over right now if Quick was less than superhuman in games one and two.
The Sharks got their first goal of the night after Joe Thornton did what he often did this evening, musclling his way through Kings players to win possession of the puck behind the net. After getting his initial pass to Brent Burns blocked by a defenseman's skate, Thornton regained control of the puck and this time sliced through defenders with a deft pass that met the tape of Burns' stick shortly before it found a home behind Quick.
With fifteen shots in the period (nine of them chances, by Neutral's count), there were plenty of opportunities to the Sharks to increase the lead in the first. The most notable was a Tommy Wingels wrister that beat Quick high to the glove slide but slapped the post and dropped just outside of the goal line.
San Jose's second period wasn't as dominant as their first on the shot clock, but by my assertion, they were just as difficult to contain. On the Sharks third power play of the game, Dan Boyle popped a shot from the blue line and with Patrick Marleau at the net beside him, Logan Couture got his fifth power play goal of these playoffs.
Oh, but then the third period. The Kings flipped the script on the Sharks, and ended up outshooting San Jose 14-2 in the final frame. They would get a goal from Mike Richards on the power play with more than half a period left to play, but the Sharks would weather the storm and survive, tying the series at two games apiece.
The Sharks look absolutely fantastic, and fortunately for them, they were able to overcome some unfortunate losses in the first two games of the series. You have to think that the feeling in the room was if the team kept playing like they had, the wins would come eventually. They have, and you can only hope that the strong play and strong results continue.
FTF 3 Stars
1st Star: Joe Roarton
2nd Star: Jonathan Quick
3rd Star: Antti Niemi
It's a best of three series now, and if the Sharks can steal the next one in LA (which has to happen eventually the way they've played there), a potentially series clinching game in San Jose where the Sharks have been dominant would be fantastic.