WOW…NOW THAT’S A PLAYOFF GAME!!!
I’ve said it too many times to recall that the Stanley Cup playoffs are THE best of team sports and game 2 at Staples Center was another perfect example of that. And the Kings continue to roll with a fantastic finish 4-3 win over San Jose for their 6th straight playoff win since falling down 0-2 in the first round and it’s also their 12th straight victory on home ice tying their all-time best from 1992.
Did I say pickle juice? Well ‘Pickles’ is the obvious nickname of Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic…yes as in Vlasic pickles (if I really need to explain more?). And he was a huge part of tonight’s finish, first scoring San Jose’s go ahead goal at 8:56 of the 3rd period after his club had fallen behind 2-0 and it was his first in 74 playoff games. But Vlasic then turned into the goat (or should I say Vlasic Stork–his other nickname) when he shot the puck over the glass in his own zone to give the Kings a 2 man advantage with just 2:19 to play. And the rest was all-Hollywood as Captain Dustin Brown tied it up with a 5 on 3 power play at 18:17 followed by the goal of Trevor Lewis’ life only 22 seconds later and just like that the Kings are halfway to advancing to the conference finals again. Ok maybe not his whole life after scoring two in the Cup clincher last season, but it certainly was Trevor’s biggest game winner in the clutch!
Jeff Carter’s unassisted blast from the right circle 3:06 into the game gave the Kings an early lead after the Sharks put 4 quick shots on goalie Jonathan Quick and despite being outshot 11-4, L.A. had a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. And then Drew Doughty’s 2nd goal of the playoffs (on the power play) in the 2nd period put them up 2-0 before the Sharks chewed their way back on back to backers by Patrick Marleau and Brad Stuart for a 2-all tie going into the 3rd when the hometeam heroics eventually took over.
Quick made 28 saves for the Kings, tying Kelly Hrudey’s franchise record with his 26th career playoff victory. And Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots for the Sharks, but couldn’t deal with the Kings suddenly powerful power play as they went 3 for 5 with the extra man (or men).
One thing that stood out to me (but not admitted to by Coach Sutter) was the Kings regularly looking for the perfect pass or shot when they just needed to shoot and crash the net. I didn’t invent that folks…it’s hockey at it’s purest but L.A. was tentative too often in this one (no matter what they admit to). That’s exactly how they scored twice in the final minutes to pull this one out and they’ll need to do much more of that in San Jose the next 2 games to get to where they want to go. That is, unless they continue to get the breaks and have to take advantage of them the hard way…like tonight!
The sounds of the game from the locker room tell a story of a team that’s feeling relieved as much as joy after one of the great playoff wins in their club’s history.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter who started out with a stand-up routine about having to buy expensive reading glasses before this whole night unfolded:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan who began talking about the Raffi Torres suspension before I asked him about what he did like in his club’s play?:
Kings center Trevor Lewis after finding a nice time to score his first goal of the playoffs:
Kings captain Dustin Brown:
Kings center Anze Kopitar who talked with stitches above his mouth after taking a puck in the face but told me it felt much better after those 2 late goals:
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick:
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr who described how fortunate his guys are to be in this position after knowing they were outplayed 5 on 5 much of the night:
Remember that the Kings played without their best faceoff man Jarret Stoll, who didn’t return to Game 1 after a hit from San Jose’s Raffi Torres late in the second period. Torres was suspended earlier today for the rest of the series by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his illegal check to the head after a hearing in New York.
I hate to say it…but you know I will anyway, even though it’s only 2 games, it looks like another case of the Sharks being the Sharks in the playoffs!
So Kings fans can you say “Shock the Sharks” really fast 3 times? Practice makes perfect as your reigning Stanley Cup champs take a 2-0 series lead into San Jose on Saturday night and the Shark Tank will be rocking…as one of the tougher buildings to play in—and just how it should be in playoffs!