Friday, April 18, 2014
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Sharks rout Kings in series opener

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[April 18, 2014]  SAN JOSE, Calif.  Hitting with purpose and scoring with ease, the San Jose Sharks cruised to a win in their playoff opener.

The Sharks dumped the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 Thursday night to open a Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Forwards Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl, Patrick Marleau, Raffi Torres, Brent Burns and defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored, chasing Los Angeles goalie and playoff nemesis Jonathan Quick in the process.

"We weren't ready to go from the start," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "When you're sloppy against a team like that, and they're good on the forecheck and can cause turnovers when you're not sharp, they're going to get a lot of chances."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set for Sunday in San Jose.

"It was a great start, and we'll need that again in Game 2," Vlasic said.

The Kings scored twice in the first seven minutes of the final period, and once more late to make the final respectable. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 31 shots during the win.

However, the result was all about San Jose's tenacious start. The Sharks made a statement in the opening period, scoring three times during a very physical start to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room. Two of the goals came in the period's final minute.


A turnover by Kings center Jeff Carter sprung a Sharks two-on-one in the dying seconds. Marleau tapped in a feed from right winger Matt Nieto with 3.2 seconds remaining to bring the fans to their feet and the building to a fever pitch, capping a period in which the teams combined for 55 hits.

Hertl scored his first playoff goal with 51.7 seconds remaining in the first. The rookie capped a fortuitous passing play, banging home a puck that squirted his way after center James Sheppard partially fanned on a shot from the left circle.

"First period, chasing the puck," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "You're not going to beat a team like that chasing the puck around the ice."

Thornton, San Jose's captain, started the scoring by deflecting left winger Joe Pavelski's soft backhand drive from the slot that had Quick turning late. Burns negated an icing by beating Kings defenseman Robin Regehr to a loose puck, and he fed Pavelski from behind the Los Angeles goal.

"It was nice to get to (Quick) early," Vlasic said. "Guys found the back of the net."

San Jose's momentum carried over to the second period, and the hosts padded the lead to five goals after the Kings kept the Sharks quiet during the first 10 minutes.

Torres picked up a carom of Vlasic's drive that rang off the left post to beat a screened Quick from the high slot at 12:57 to make it 4-0.

Vlasic, who had a number of close chances earlier, finally found the back of the net with a drive Quick got a piece of, but not enough, for a power-play tally at 16:29.

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Aside from the scoring, the Sharks clamped down during two short-handed situations and also pressured the Kings into penalties that added up to three power plays for the hosts in the opening 40 minutes.

The hits stood at 52-43 in Los Angeles' favor through two periods, and the Kings held a 24-23 edge in the faceoff circle, but the Sharks certainly took full advantage of their 28-18 edge in shots.

Facing a five-goal deficit, Sutter opted to pull Quick in favor of rookie Martin Jones for the final period. Jones stopped all four shots he faced.

San Jose managed only 10 goals in a seven-game series loss to Los Angeles in the second round last spring.

"We got fortunate to get a couple of those goals," Thornton said.

Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin beat Niemi with a shot from just above the left circle at 2:01 of the third period, and fellow defenseman Slava Voynov wired a shot past the screened San Jose goalie at 6:55. Center Trevor Lewis redirected a Carter shot in at 13:59.

"If you sit back against a team like, that that's what they're going to do," Torres said.

The Sharks' lead was down to 5-3, but Burns' unassisted goal in the final minute sealed the win.

NOTES: Los Angeles G Jonathan Quick came into the postseason with the most wins (25) and shutouts (six) and the best goals-against average (1.62) and save percentage (.940) over the last two playoff years among all NHL goalies. ... The home team won 17 of the last 18 regular-season and playoff meetings between the two rivals through Game 1. ... Thursday marked the first time both LW Tomas Hertl and RW Raffi Torres were in San Jose's lineup at the same time. Torres missed the final 17 games of the season after appearing in five games between Feb. 27-March 8. Hertl missed 45 games until playing in the final two of the regular season. Both returned from early-season knee surgery. ... San Jose's scratches included RW Marty Havlat, LW Bracken Kearns, RW Tyler Kennedy and D Matt Tennyson. RW Adam Burish is out with a finger injury. ... D Matt Greene, RW Linden Vey and LW Tanner Pearson did not dress for Los Angeles. ... A power outage darkened the building briefly before warmups but did not delay the opening faceoff.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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