Couture: 'It's another opportunity for other guys to step up'
After taking two straight losses to open the postseason, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has reeled off five straight wins, including two shutouts. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – The shot differential in Game 1 was fairly dramatic, as the Sharks fired 35 shots on Jonathan Quick as compared to just 20 by the Los Angeles Kings.
But, that number is a bit deceiving. While the Sharks had a handful of good scoring chances in the 2-0 loss on Tuesday night at Staples Center, far too many of their attempts were easy, uncontested saves for Quick. That will have to change if the Sharks are going to find success against the 2012 Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP.
“In the offensive zone we had some looks at the net. I don’t think we can get wrapped up in the shots on goal because they’re not always of high quality,” Todd McLellan said on Wednesday. “But, they were going to the net and I think we can do a better job in and around that area.
“We had some key people with pucks on their tape last night. You have to give Jonathan Quick a lot of credit, but I’d like to think that we’ll have a little more poise in those situations, and hit our spot a little bit better.”
The beginning to Quick’s 2013 postseason was a shaky one, at best. The goaltender’s sloppy turnover in overtime of Game 1 against St. Louis led directly to the winning goal by Alex Steen, and he allowed a very stoppable shot by Barret Jackman late in the third period to beat him in Game 2.
Since then, Quick has reeled off five straight wins, allowing a total of six goals over that span, including two shutouts.
What makes him so hard to beat?
“He’s aggressive. He’s a big goalie, and plays the angles good,” Joe Thornton said. “I think his D helps him out with getting rid of rebounds. He’s solid, and you’ve got to work for your goals against him.”
Joe Pavelski said: “He’s been playing great. We’ve got to keep shooting and keep getting pucks there. That’s the only way they’re going to go in. You never know when he’s going to give you one, too.”
The Sharks have seen Quick enough over the years. In fact, in the regular season, Quick has actually lost more games than he’s won against San Jose, with an 8-4-5 record in 18 appearances. He was pulled in a game against San Jose on March 14, allowing three goals on 12 shots in 28 minutes, one of two games in which he was yanked this season.
Logan Couture gave his perspective on what San Jose needs to do to get to Quick as their Western Conference semifinal series against the Kings continues.
“More traffic, more shots in succession,” Couture said. “He’s aggressive, he comes out of the blue [paint] and takes a lot of the net away. Shoot off of him. Rebounds.
“He’s in a zone right now. He’s playing great. He’s seeing everything, compact with the puck, it’s hitting him and not coming off him. We’ve got to find a way.”
* * *
The Sharks still have the opportunity to earn a split on the road, typically the aim for any team in a best-of-seven series.
Game 2 is at Staples Center on Thursday night (7 p.m., NBCSN).
“You’d like to win the first one and hit the ground running, but you’d like to get a split here,” Thornton said. “That’s the reality of coming on the road in the postseason. Getting a split would be nice for us.”
The Game 1 loss was the Sharks’ first of the playoffs after sweeping Vancouver.
“You rip off four straight, you think you might be able to do 16. Realistically, that’s probably not going to happen, there’s going to be ups and downs,” Pavelski said. “It’s an important game for us tomorrow.”
Goose egg aside, McLellan would like to see more of the same from his club in Game 2.
“There were areas of game that we liked. We did some good things in the defensive zone. We made a couple mistakes that championship clubs make you pay for, and they did.”
As they have been doing for the past two months, the Sharks regulars stayed off of the ice following a game day.