Sharks frustrated by Kings in Game 1 loss
2012 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick stopped all 34 Sharks' shots in the Kings 2-0 win over San Jose. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – The Sharks’ long layoff between playoff games finally came to an end on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for San Jose, the team’s offense remained inactive.
Jonathan Quick was unbeatable, stopping all 35 shots he saw, leading the Kings to a 2-0 win in Game 1 of a Western Conference Semifinal series at Staples Center. Game 2 is on Thursday in Southern California.
Slava Voynov and Mike Richards each had a goal and an assist to pace the Kings’ offense.
The Kings scored a goal in each of the first two periods to lead 2-0 at the second intermission.
Voynov broke a scoreless tie late in the first, when his blast beat Antti Niemi to the top corner at 19:47.
Voynov helped create the second goal, too, when his floater from the point deflected off of Richards’ skate and in at 12:30 of the second. The goal marked the first time the Kings held a two-goal lead in the postseason, and the first time the Sharks trailed by two.
The Sharks, who hadn’t played in a week after completing a sweep of Vancouver last Tuesday, had the early energy but couldn’t take advantage. Quick sealed off the post with Patrick Marleau on the doorstep looking for a rebound on a Sharks power play, and midway through the first, the 2012 Conn Smythe winner denied TJ Galiardi in front of the net on a nice pass from Joe Thornton.
In the second, Quick smothered a Raffi Torres slap shot on a San Jose power play with nine minutes left and the Kings clinging to a 1-0 lead. Late in the period, Logan Couture deftly stickhandled to the slot through the Kings’ defense, but Quick smothered Couture’s sneaky wrister to keep it a two-goal cushion at the intermission.
Sixteen of Quick’s 34 saves came in the third period as the Sharks outshot the Kings 16-4. He stopped Brent Burns’ one-timer with 4:28 to go, after San Jose shifted Joe Pavelski to the Burns-Thornton line, desperately trying to break through.
The Kings, who finished tied with San Jose and Chicago for the most points at home in the regular season, have won 11 in a row at Staples Center including all four in the playoffs.
The Sharks failed to convert on three power play tries, one in each period. They are 7-for-27 in the postseason.
The Kings’ penalty kill, one of the biggest reasons they won the Stanley Cup last season, was strong. In the second period with Anze Kopitar off on a hooking minor, Rob Scuderi’s stick work denied the Sharks a couple of scoring chances while the Sharks searched for the equalizing goal.
Los Angeles had just one power play, coming on a Torres charging minor at 19:02 of the second period. Torres appeared to make contact with Jarret Stoll’s head, and Stoll left the game.
Niemi took his first loss of the playoffs, making 18 saves. Quick improved to 5-2.
Unlike his teammates, Niemi looked uncomfortable early. He was slow to get to the far post on an Kopitar wraparound attempt that nearly went in, bobbled a Dwight King slap shot from the circle on an attempt he typically handles easily, and gave the puck away in the defensive zone with three minutes to go in the first period leading to a missed shot by Kopitar.
Bracken Kearns played in just his second game with the Sharks, taking Adam Burish’s place on the fourth line wing and getting the call over Tim Kennedy. Kearns played in just one regular season game, on March 5 in Vancouver.
Jason Demers (sprained left ankle) and Marty Havlat (lower body) remained out for the Sharks.
Los Angeles was without forward Kyle Clifford and defenseman Matt Greene (both undisclosed injuries).
After Game 2 on Thursday, the series shifts to San Jose for Game 3 on Saturday (6 p.m.) and Game 4 next Tuesday (7 p.m.).