Coach Darryl Sutter admits it’s not the best case scenario, taking the whip to a key player this early in the playoffs, but, hey, it’s the playoffs – you do whatever it takes to get you to the next round.
“I think it’s human nature to let your guard down or take a deep breath after a long road trip”, DeBoer said.
Indeed, it was the Sharks – perennial poor playoff performers – who showed control over the two-time Stanley Cup champions, clamping down on defense and swarming the Kings for a 2-1 win on Saturday night to take a 2-0 series lead. This gave the Sharks a 2-0 series lead heading to San Jose for Games 3 and 4 this week.
“I think if we’ve dropped the ball somewhere it’s been against some of the teams at the bottom half of the standings”, DeBoer said. “We played a good road game, good enough to win”.
Speaking with the media on Sunday, coach Pete DeBoer grew tired after three straight minutes of inquires about the Sharks’ struggles at home. Wouldn’t it be something if they didn’t fool us again? “They kind of set the bar, and that’s where everyone else is trying to get to”.
Before the game, the Kings’ lack of defensive depth with Alec Martinez out with an injury, was supposed to be their undoing. Just like in Game 1, it was the first shot of the game for the Sharks, and it was also Pavelski’s goal.
Joe Pavelski scored at even strength and Logan Couture added a power play goal, and the Sharks held on for a 2-1 win over the Kings to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first round playoff series.
With Tyler Toffoli and Milan Lucic in the box for roughing and charging, respectively, the Sharks got a power play goal from Couture 8:44 into the second period. “He likes to play physical, he likes to forecheck, and he does a good job of it. So you buy a little space if you can and move the puck quick. For us to get the first goal really got us in the game”.
In the calm before the Game 2 storm, defenceman Drew Doughty summed up the gravity of the Los Angeles Kings’ situation perfectly: “We need to win this next game, it’s a must win”, he said. They have defeated Los Angeles in five of the seven contests this season. These numbers aren’t indictments of either player’s talent level, but do tell some of the story as the Sharks were outshot in both games in Los Angeles. The Kings ranked first in the National Hockey League in CF% 5-on-5 according to War on Ice. Los Angeles rode that momentum past Anaheim, Chicago and the New York Rangers to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship, but missed the postseason along with San Jose last spring after three years of playoff grind finally caught up. None were shots on goal. “We’re not making it hard enough on them, we’re not getting enough traffic, we need to start playing our game”. Lombardi knew, however, that there was a chance the Bruins might flip him, so he wasn’t totally shocked when Sharks GM Doug Wilson landed Jones just a few days later after the Bruins-Kings trade.
“It was the difference in our game when we went down to five defensemen, clearly”, Sutter said. I’ve just got to get my shot off a little quicker. “All year it’s been great”.
San Jose continued to fill the lanes and gaps that normally are available for L.A.’s shooters. The excitement of beating a rival was understandable from Plattner, but the players themselves didn’t quite share their boss’s overt enthusiasm.
The Sharks were hoping that line can create some mismatches early in the series with its speed. We had a pretty good surge at the end there, but it was too late. “And we converted on the chances that we had, which was big, because we knew we’d probably be shorthanded a lot afterward”.