Instant Replay: Kings blank Sharks, force Game 6

Instant Replay: Kings blank Sharks, force Game 6
April 26, 2014, 9:00 pm
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Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) celebrates with Slava Voynov (26) after scoring vs. the Sharks during the first period. (USATSI)

Programming note: Coverage of Game 6 between the Sharks and Kings begins Monday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California (Channel locations)

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – One team played like its season was on the line, while the other resembled a club that had already mentally moved on to the next round.

The Los Angeles Kings defeated a decidedly unfocused and casual Sharks team in Game 5 at SAP Center, 3-0, and are now fully back in the first round series with two straight wins. The Sharks still lead, three games to two, with Game 6 back at Staples Center on Monday at 7 p.m.

The night went from hugely disappointing to potentially disastrous when defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left in the first period and did not return. The Sharks’ top defenseman was on the business end of a roughing penalty by Jarret Stoll at 14:09 and was seen limping to the dressing room, although afterwards he was termed as having an upper body injury which may have been a result of Stoll's elbow to the head. His status for Game 6 is uncertain.

[RELATED: Vlasic exits in first period of Game 5]

It was a dominant performance for the Kings from the drop of the puck.

Los Angeles registered 12 of the first 14 shots on net, taking a 1-0 lead when Tyler Toffoli got a shot off from the high slot that cleanly beat Antti Niemi at 8:09. James Sheppard had a chance to tie up Toffoli, but couldn’t get a body or stick on the young winger.

Less than four minutes later, Anze Kopitar increased the visitor’s lead to 2-0 moments after Andrew Desjardins nearly tied it. Niemi left a fat rebound of a Dustin Brown low wrister and Kopitar made no mistake in slamming home his first goal of the series. Kopitar has one point in each of the five games (1g, 4a).

The Kings held an 18-6 shot advantage after the end of the first, and didn’t let up in the second. A power play goal by Jeff Carter, who banked the puck off of Brad Stuart just 22 seconds into the middle frame, ended Niemi’s night early for second straight match.

The Sharks still looked lost for much of the rest of the second, but finally generated some chances late. Brent Burns’ one-timer was denied by Jonathan Quick with 4:44 to go, and later Joe Pavelski pushed the puck wide on an open look from the circle in the final minute of the period.

Quick, who has gotten much better as the series has progressed, recorded his eighth career playoff shutout with 30 saves. He made perhaps his best stop on Tommy Wingels, getting a pad on the attempt from the circle midway through the third period.

San Jose’s best chance at solving Quick came on a late power play, but Jason Demers’ deflection hit the post with 4:24 to go, and Justin Braun missed a wide open net seconds later.

The Sharks lost their sixth straight Game 5, and saw an eight-game postseason home winning streak come to an end. They are 7-2 all time when leading a series three-games-to-two.

Special teams:
The Sharks finished 0-for-5 on the power play, after getting at least one goal with a man advantage in each of the first four games.

The Kings were 1-for-4, and are now 4-for-13 in the last three games.

In goal:
The starting goaltenders are trending in opposite directions, and the Sharks have a decision to make for Game 6. Niemi allowed three goals on 19 shots.

Alex Stalock looked sharp in relief, stopping all 22 shots he saw. On Thursday, his first career playoff appearance, he needed to make just four saves in relief after entering in the third period.

Lineup:
The Sharks did not make any lineup changes, and have utilized the same 18 skaters for each of the five games.

Tomas Hertl did not take a shift in the third period, but remained on the bench.

Up next:
Coverage of Game 6 begins at 6:30 p.m. on Monday with Pregame Live on CSN California. Game 7 would be back at SAP Center on Wednesday, with the time TBD.

The winner of the Sharks-Kings series will face either Anaheim or Dallas in the second round. The Ducks lead the Stars, three games to two, with Game 6 on Sunday at American Airlines Center.