The LA Kings lost game 4 to the San Jose Sharks 6-3 at the Staples Center after blowing a 4 goal lead the game before in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They now head up to San Jose and try to stay alive this year after succumbing their latest losses.
The first period ended at 0-0 only due to Jonathon Quick’s incredible goaltending. He made save after save even during a 2-man power play for the Sharks after Brown and Green each went off for slashing penalties right after each other. The Kings had their own power plays but couldn’t convert.
The turning point in the game in my opinion came early in the second period when Scott Nichol tangles with Drew Doughty so they both were given matching roughing penalties- a good trade for San Jose- which ended up scoring 2 goals soon thereafter with 4-4 play. Ryan Clowe scored his 3rd of the series shooting the puck towards the net and it went off King’s defenseman Alec Martinez to make it 1-0. Moments later, the Kings suffered a lapse on defense obviously missing Doughty as Jason Demers was left wide open to make it 2-0. Green took a 4-minute high sticking penalty and San Jose took advantage as Clowe scored again.
The Kings started clawing back as Brad Richardson scored on a rebound shot by Ryan Smith after a great drop pass to get LA on the board. Justin Williams scored a beautiful goal that clipped a shark stick past goalie Anti Niemi to make it 3-2 San Jose after 2 periods. Richardson was flying all night and was the team’s best player out there. After the nice comeback, the 3rd period didn’t go so well. Joe Thornton took a backhand pass from Patrick Marleau and beat Quick to make it 4-2. Then Joe Pavelski’s redirected tip off Dan Boyle’s wrist shot got past Quick to make it 5-2. Torrey Mitchell scored the last Shark goal off a Kyle Wellwood shot to make it 6-2 before Alexei Poinikarovsky’s tip in off a Jack Johnson shot ended the scoring at 6-3.
The Kings outshot the Sharks but their defense fell apart. Coach Terry Murray said in the post game interview that the swap of Nichol for Doughty was also the key to the game and Nichol did a great job getting them both taken off. If it was Thornton or Marleau that would have been a more fair trade he said but that trade basically cost the team the first 3 goals. The Kings desperately missed team MVP Anze Kopitar. Nobody can replace your best player. They also got little production from late season acquisition Dustin Penner who mostly disappeared at the end of the season and playoffs. The Kings still had a miracle shot at the end with a 2-man power play with a few minutes to go but couldn’t score. I thought they should have pulled the goalie but Murray never did.
In the end, the Sharks lost game 5 as Quick made 51 saves as the Kings won 3-1 before returning to LA only to lose their 3 home game in a row 4-3 on Joe Thornton’s overtime goal to lose the series 4-2. The future is promising as many players got their feet wet this year and others got to their second playoffs in a row. With many new young players and a healthy Kopitar, the team is looking up. The team didn’t bring up top prospect Brayden Schenn even though he was eligible after his season ended as they said he was too raw and they didn’t want to endure him to postseason pressure but it sounded like there was some sort of money compensation involved as if he were to have played in 10 games, the Kings would have had to pay him a lot more. He had already played in 8 games this year. In sports you never know as injuries, money and luck play big parts of winning and losing.
Get your season tickets for next year along with more team information at www.kings.nhl.com