Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 between the Sharks and Kings starts Tuesday night at 6:30 on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live. Bookmark this page for comprehensive coverage of the series.
SAN JOSE – Game 1 was supposed to be an anomaly.
There was no way the Sharks were going to replicate their offensive outburst against Jonathan Quick and the defensively stingy Los Angeles Kings, who would certainly play better in Game 2 than they did on Thursday.
Incredibly, the Sharks were more dominant in Sunday night’s 7-2 win than they were in Game 1, when they basically cruised to a 6-3 victory to open the series.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sharks score seven straight, thrash Kings]
The only real difference from Thursday was the start. Instead of striking for three goals in the opening frame like they did in Game 1, the Sharks couldn't solve Quick, who looked like his elite self in turning aside scoring chance after scoring chance while helping the Kings maintain a 2-0 lead at the break.
It wouldn’t have been at all shocking to see the goaltender close the door on the Sharks for the rest of the match, like he has so many times in the past.
The Sharks never wavered though, and some magic from the fourth line in the form of two goals helped to spark the team to seven total, equaling a franchise record for a playoff game.
“No one panicked. … coaching staff, players, everyone,” Logan Couture said. “We knew if we kept playing the same way we’d be able to score some goals, and we were able to score seven unanswered.”
Joe Thornton said: “We were down 2-0 and we said, ‘Just don’t let them get another goal.’ We were down by two, but we truly believed we would get three and win the game. We were getting the chances, you just have to keep with it.”
Just two games into the postseason, every Sharks forward has at least two points, and 15 of 18 skaters have at least one point.
Even head coach Todd McLellan never expected what has transpired, lighting up the team that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL’s regular season, and held the Sharks to 10 goals total in a seven-game playoff series last year.
“Could have I envisioned it? No. I would be lying if I said that,” McLellan said. “After Game 1, I talked about the fact that I don’t think we’ll be in this situation again. We ended up there.
“Again, I don’t think that this series is going to play out in blowouts like this, night after night. They’re a very good hockey club. They’ll find their game and they are going to push us. We have to be prepared for that.”
It takes several factors for a team to strike for 13 goals in two playoff games, but for the Sharks, it's been a combination of fearless, in-your-face aggression, defensive lapses from the Kings, and lack of a timely save from Quick.
On the Sharks’ first two goals by Mike Brown and Raffi Torres, the fourth liners found open ice in the offensive zone and beat Quick with hard wrist shots. Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Couture all took advantage of odd-numbered rushes when scoring their goals, which is something the Kings haven’t given up on a regular basis in recent years.
“They were kind of running around out of position and it opened up holes for us,” Couture said. “Some bad [line] changes by them again. That’s so uncharacteristic of their team. We know they’re going to be a lot better in their building. It’s going to be a tougher challenge going forward.”
Torres said: “We’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s going to be like this for seven games.”
That’s what they were saying after Game 1, though, so believe it at your own peril.