Road unkind yet again to Sharks
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:29 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — The Stanley Cup playoffs have reached “win or go home” time for the Sharks.
For a fifth consecutive game, the road proved inhospitable Thursday night, as the Los Angeles Kings shut out San Jose 3-0 to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.
Kings netminder Jonathan Quick blanked the Sharks for the second time in the second-round series, making 24 saves, while goals by Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov were more than enough offense for Los Angeles. Jeff Carter added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
The series continues Sunday at HP Pavilion, giving the Sharks an extra day to regroup.
With the series at 2-2 and down to a best-of-three, the Sharks were well aware that to advance to the Western Conference finals, they would need to win at least one game at the Staples Center.
And that would not be easy as the Kings had won 12 in a row on home ice, their last loss coming exactly two months earlier.
San Jose came close to ending that streak in Game 2 before two penalties in the final two minutes led to a pair of Los Angeles goals that sent the Sharks back home 4-3 losers. Still, players said that let them know they could hold their own at Staples.
“I mean, we played a good enough game to win in this building,” Logan Couture said before Thursday's game. “I think we played a very good road game in that game, so hopefully we can build off that and play the same way.”
The Kings were determined not to let the Sharks get off to the kind of starts that carried them to the two victories at HP Pavilion — and succeeded.
Unlike Game 4 where Joe Thornton led a Sharks offense that kept sustained pressure on the Kings for most of the 20 minutes, this time San Jose had trouble maintaining control against a Los Angeles team that seemed determined to physically knock every Shark off the puck.
San Jose was both outhit (24-12) and outshot (9-6) in the first period by a Kings team that came close to taking a lead in the final 30 seconds only to have Justin Williams' dangerous wrist shot from the slot kicked aside by goalie Antti Niemi.
The Kings kept up the pressure in the second period and, again, it was Niemi keeping San Jose from falling behind as he got his glove on a shot through traffic by Robyn Regher and somehow beat Jeff Carter to the far post on a wraparound try.
San Jose had its chances, too.
Twice Patrick Marleau and Couture led odd-man rushes into the Los Angeles zone — one of them short-handed — but each time Quick was able to keep the puck out of the net.
Los Angeles finally broke through at 18:08 when a turnover by defenseman Matt Irwin led to a Kyle Clifford shot from the right point. The puck pinballed to Kopitar just to the right of Niemi, who could not recover fast enough to block what amounted to a tap-in from just outside the crease.
The hole that San Jose needed to climb out of doubled in depth before the third period was a minute old, with the Sharks starting out short-handed after TJ Galiardi earned a goalie interference penalty late in the second.
The Kings still had two seconds of the man advantage when Trevor Lewis won a faceoff from Joe Thornton, but the teams were back at even strength when Voynov's shot from the right point eluded Niemi through traffic at the 53-second mark.
The Sharks had a power-play opportunity to get back in the game when Kopitar was sent off for tripping Thornton at 10:26, but Quick stopped the one shot he faced short-handed.
After sitting out earlier in the postseason with an injured left ankle, Jason Demers got his first action of the postseason for San Jose, which sat left wing Tim Kennedy to make room. Demers, normally a defenseman, usually played forward. The Sharks are playing without injured forwards Marty Havlat and Adam Burish.
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