April 14, 2011RATTO ARCHIVESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
On a night with too many close calls and one noteworthy non-call, Kyle Wellwood made the best call, and the easiest one, to give the Sharks a 3-2 overtime win over Los Angeles Thursday night in Game 1 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.Wellwood broke out with Ryane Clowe on an odd-man break deep into the overtime period, got the perfect pass from Clowe and turned it into the perfect pass to Joe Pavelski for the game-winner 14:44 into extra time, and springing the Sharks to a quick but painful advantage in this series.The painful part had come much earlier, when Kings center Jarret Stoll drove defenseman Ian Whites head into the glass behind the San Jose net 26 seconds from the end of the first period. White wobbled to the bench and was helped to the dressing room, where he remained through the rest of the evening while the Sharks soldiered on a defenseman down.
NEWS: Sharks edge Kings on Pavelski's O.T. winner
But it took a play from Clowe, taking the puck from Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, to give the Sharks the escape they needed before Whites absence wore the rest of the team to a nub.Basically, Martinez tried to jump through and make a play, and I think he might have fallen down, but Clowie got the puck off his stick, Wellwood said as he described Pavelskis game-winner as well as Clowes third assist. He saw that the guys who were back were (Wayne) Simmonds and the other defenseman (Matt Greene), and he just went at them and I followed, and I figured when he got me the puck that I had time to make a play.
VIDEO: Game highlights
And Pavelski, who trailed the play as trained to do, took a gentle and accurate pass from Wellwood and beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a 24-foot wrist shot to give the Sharks are harder-fought-than-they-might-have-hoped victory.We had a 3 on 2, and Wellie just put the puck right on my stick, and I just had to make a play on it, Pavelski said. I was aiming, definitely. I didnt just let it go.The goal ended a mutually-agreed-upon hit-fest that saw 80 shots, 45 from the Sharks despite a 15-minute stretch in the second and third periods where they got none at all, and it also relieved the Sharks of the growing burden of playing without White.White was taken to the dressing room and evaluated constantly during the rest of the evening by Sharks doctors. He not only did not return, he may not be available for Saturdays Game 2.It didnt look good, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. We got a very good look at it; there was a camera right behind the glass. The good thing is, it will be dealt with by the league. But its disappointing because he is obviously very important to us, and because Jarret Stoll is a hell of a player.
VIDEO: Todd McLellan postgame
The hit, though, drew no penalty from either Brad Watson or Greg Kimmerly, both of whom seemed to be screened from a good enough look based on replays.What I would like to have seen is for there to be a penalty called on the play, McLellan said, sidestepping the idea of a suspension for Stoll for what looked to be exactly the kind of hit the league has been trying to crack down upon since midseason. But we have no control over it now. Its in the hands of the league.Whether the league chooses to discipline a player as important as Stoll in a playoff series is an open question, but the Sharks plan to take all of Friday and as much of Saturday as they feel necessary to decide if White can play in Game 2 or beyond. The logical replacement would be rookie Justin Braun, though McLellan did say that Kent Huskins, who had been Niclas Wallins defense partner before getting hurt, is getting close.In other words, it looks like the Sharks defense, already on the thin side, is going to get thinner, relying on significant minutes from Braun and Jason Demers, who had an impressive game, so that Dan Boyle, who fumed outwardly about the Stoll hit, doesnt have to play 35 minutes, as he did Thursday night.Otherwise, it was a game of luck, both good and bad, and goalies, both very very good. Antti Niemi stole several goals from the light-scoring Kings, and lucked out on two open nets that Brad Richardson couldnt finish, and Quick was superb throughout, assuring the fans in both cities that this series will be, as McLellan said Thursday morning, a race to three.What's your take?EmailRay and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag. Follow Ray onTwitter @RattoCSN.