SJ Sharks force Game 7
The Sharks will need as much momentum as they can get if they want to become the first visiting team to win a game in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Los Angeles Kings, and they polished off a 2-1 win in Game 6 with a flurry Sunday night.
San Jose spent the final 30 seconds in the offensive zone despite the fact the Kings had pulled goalie Jonathan Quick, running out the clock and sending a packed Shark Tank into a frenzy as they evened up the series at 3 games apiece.
All three of San Jose’s wins in this series have come by a score of 2-1, and the home team has won all six games. The Sharks will need to snap that trend if they want their season to continue in the pivotal seventh game on Tuesday.
San Jose, which was fully outplayed by Los Angeles in its 3-0 loss in Game 5, set the tone early on by drawing three early Kings penalties. Los Angeles’s Kyle Clifford was called for charging the Sharks’ Patrick Marleau just 1:14 into the game, but San Jose couldn’t muster much of a threat on the ensuing power play. But Los Angeles was called for penalties just 14 seconds apart later, giving the Sharks a 5-on-3 at 4:58 of the third period.
Center Joe Thornton capitalized on the two-man advantage, taking Joe Pavelski’s pass that crossed in front of the goal and poking it into the right corner for a 1-0 lead.
San Jose almost added another just as the power play expired, as Tommy Wingels reeled off a high-percentage shot, which was stopped by Quick. The rebound went right to James Sheppard out in front, but Quick made a terrific save on his attempt to put it back.
The goal on the 5-on-3 was the highlight of an otherwise struggling power play for the Sharks. Midway through the second, the Kings’ Justin Williams was assessed a four-minute penalty when he was called for high-sticking Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. But the Sharks didn’t come close to mounting a serious threat during the power play, although Wingels did have a good shot against Quick just before the man-advantage expired.
The Sharks killed off two penalties in the first period. The Kings put a lot of pressure on San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi on their first attempt with the man-advantage, coming close to scoring when Drew Doughty hit the crossbar. Trevor Lewis and Williams each had point-blank shots that were turned back by Niemi.
The Sharks extended their advantage to 2-0 early in the second period when defenseman Scott Hannan passed the puck up the ice to T.J. Galiardi, with Brent Burns letting it slide by. Galiardi then fired off a shot from the left circle that got past Quick at 4:10. The Sharks got sustained pressure on Quick for the next few minutes after Galiardi’s goal, but couldn’t break through with another score.
Los Angeles cut it to 2-1 at 13:53 of the second when Dustin Brown scored off assists from Matt Greene and Dwight King.
Although the Sharks led 1-0 after the first period, the Kings actually spent more time in the offensive zone and had San Jose on its heels at times. But as the game wore on, the Sharks played better and better at even strength. By the third period, San Jose protected its lead efficiently, forcing Quick into several quality saves with good scoring chances. Niemi was forced to stave off a flurry in front of the crease with about 90 seconds left, but the Sharks once again assumed control to close out the victory.
STAR OF THE GAME: T.J. Galiardi. The winger scored what proved to be the game-winner and was solid on the ice all night. He almost scored a second goal in the third period when his shot got past Quick but trickled wide.
GAME DATA: Niemi made 24 saves. … The Kings have five losses in the postseason, all by a 2-1 score. … According to STATS LLC, the road team is 8-8 in Game 7 in a series in which the home team has won each of the first six games. … While the Kings have won 13 straight home games, they have lost 11 of their last 12 on the road.
INJURY REPORT: The Sharks welcomed Adam Burish back to the active roster after missing the first five games of the series. Burish was injured in the Sharks’ series-clinching win over Vancouver in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Defenseman Jason Demers, who returned to the lineup in Game 5 after missing more than a month, was a scratch once again in Game 6. Marty Havlat continues to be sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Justin Braun was injured early in the first period and played just 47 seconds, but returned for the beginning of the second period. For the Kings, Jarret Stoll is still out after being injured in Game 1 of the series.
TEAM STATS: Shots – LA 25, SJ 26. Faceoffs won – LA 22, SJ 31. Power Play – LA 0-2, SJ 1-5.
NEXT UP: The decisive Game 7 is Tuesday night at Staples Center.