Sharks even up series with the Kings

“It’s a three game series now,” said Logan Couture after the Game 4 win in San Jose.

SAN JOSE, California – The San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings by the count of 2-1 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The series is now tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Brent Burns scored in the first period; Logan Couture scored his franchise tying 5th power play goal of the playoffs in the second, and the Sharks held off a furious third period comeback by the Kings to send the series back to LA tied 2-2.

The Sharks owned the first period of play; outshooting the Kings 15-3 and won 77% of the face-offs but only led 1-0 after 20 minutes. San Jose grabbed a 1-0 advantage at 6:09 after a strong fore-check and steal by captain Joe Thornton deep in the Kings’ zone. Jumbo threw a shoulder into Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov and centered the puck in front of the Kings’ net to Brent Burns. After Burns had his initial shot blocked, Thornton found Burns again down low on the left wing side and Burns (2nd goal) blazed a shot past a sprawling Jonathan Quick to give San Jose an early 1-0 advantage. Thornton (8th assist) and T.J. Galiardi (1st assist) were each credited with an assist on the score.

Tommy Wingels beat Quick with a 45 foot snap shot with less than three minutes remaining in the first period on the Sharks 2nd consecutive power play, but the shot rang off the cross bar and was covered by the Kings’ netminder. The Sharks led 1-0 after 20 minutes of play with Los Angeles only registering one shot in the final 14 minutes of the first stanza.

After the Kings had some good pressure early in the second period, the LA’s Colin Fraser was whistled for roughing at 3:14 after taking a run at Andrew Desjardins in the Sharks’ zone. On the power play, Dan Boyle let one fly from the center point with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture in front providing a screen to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 3:55. The goal was deflected in by Couture (5th goal) with Dan Boyle (4th assist) and Joe Pavelski (6th assist) picking up the assists. Jonathan Quick made a huge glove stop on Joe Pavelski’s drive from the left circle on a 2-on-1 rush with less than eight minutes remaining in the second to keep the Kings within two.

Los Angeles had their best chance of the middle frame with 2:30 remaining when rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin missed an empty net opportunity from on top of the Sharks’ crease on the Kings’ second power play. Antti Niemi made six second period saves as the Sharks led 2-0 after 40 minutes of play.

In the third period, the Kings turned up the pressure in the Sharks zone and found the back of the net at 9:46 with Brent Burns in the box for boarding. Mike Richards (2nd goal) slammed home a loose rebound at the side of the net past Antti Niemi to get the Kings within a goal. Jeff Carter (3rd assist) and Anze Kopitar (4th assist) assisted on the power play marker for the Kings. Antti Niemi made 13 saves in the third period as the Sharks were able to hold on for the 2-1 victory.

STAR OF THE GAME: Joe Thornton. The Sharks captain led by example in the first period and assisted on the Brent Burns goal. Jumbo was terrific the entire game; face-offs, fore-check, passing, work on boards.

GAME DATA: The Sharks improve to 4-0 on home ice during the playoffs… Tim Kennedy replaced Martin Havlat in the lineup for the Sharks…San Jose had tried 21 shots, the Kings just five shots through the first 11 minutes of the hockey game… the Kings had a goal waved off be an early whistle midway through the 2nd period… the Kings outshot San Jose 14-2 in the third period.

INJURY REPORT: … No injuries to report from Game 4. San Jose’s Adam Burish, Jason Demers, and Martin Havlat remained out with injuries. The Kings’ Jarret Stoll missed his third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Matt Green returned to the lineup from injury for his first playoff game of the year for LA (Green played just five regular season games). Kyle Clifford played his first game of the series after suffering an injury in Game 5 vs. the Blues.

TEAM STATS: Shots – LA 23, SJ 23. Face-offs won – LA 26 SJ 34. Takeaways – LA 1, SJ 12.

NEXT UP: Game 5 is Thursday night at the STAPLES CENTER in Los Angeles.

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