In their first meeting since last season’s first round playoffs, the Kings and the Sharks faced off last night at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Unfortunately, it looked a lot like the playoffs, where the Kings had moments of dominance, but failed to capitalize, while the Sharks took advantage of every possible opportunity. After a scoreless first period, the Kings came back in the second to score a 5 on 3 power play goal to take the lead. It was classic Kings power play: Richards wins the draw, gets it to Kopitar, then to Doughty, and finally to Johnson, who fired a rocket from the point for his 4th goal of the season. Truly a beautiful play.
Five minutes later, Sharks Captain Joe Thornton throws a backhander towards the goal that just bounces off the glove of Jonathan Quick and into the net. It didn’t stop there. Less than a minute later, Patrick Marleau tips in a shot from Dan Boyle to take the lead at 2-1. At this point, you could tell the game had gotten away from them. With just under four minutes left in the second period, Willie Mitchell goes to the box for cross checking, giving the Sharks a big power play opportunity, which of course they use to their full advantage. After making a few poor decisions with the puck, defenseman Dan Boyle finally did what he does best and fired a shot that went soaring past Quick to give his team the 3-1 lead going into the third.
The third period proved every bit as frustrating. The Kings didn’t have the momentum or intensity that they came out with in the first period and as a result, gave up another goal to Logan Couture who shot a backhand off a rebound that put the Sharks up 4-1. With slightly over half the period remaining, the Kings added a goal with a slapshot from Anze Kopitar, but their chance at getting back into the game was spoiled by Dustin Penner’s hooking penalty shortly after. The Kings went on to lose 4-2.
It is hard to put the frustration into words. I’ve noticed a trend lately with the Kings. They come out and play great hockey for the first period, maybe the first two periods if it’s a good night, but somehow manage to let the game slip away from them as we have seen in their now five consecutive losses. The only positive things that I can say about last night’s game are that Penner actually had two good scoring chances in the first period, both goals were scored on the power play (though that could also be a negative, as 5 on 5 scoring has been a problem), and that Drew Doughty got a couple of points. As far as negatives, well the Kings need to make sure that they come out ready to play a FULL GAME. That seems to be a big issue. Also, where is the scoring from the third and fourth lines? We can’t rely solely on our top two lines for scoring. If you’d asked me last year, I would’ve told you that Jarret Stoll was one of the biggest assets to this team, but this season he has been almost invisible. The third line is not suiting him well, so what should the team do with him? They can’t really bump Mike Richards off the second line, and there’s definitely no messing with the chemistry of the top line, so there is a bit of a problem right there. I’m not sure I have the solution, but let’s hope the Kings coaching staff will come up with something that works.
The Kings play again tonight back at home against the Nashville Predators (7-4-2). Jonathan Bernier will be in net tonight. He played all four games against Nashville last year and posted a 3-1-0 record. I’ve heard that the Predators may be starting backup goaltender Anders Lindback tonight to let Pekka Rinne rest up for their game against Anaheim tomorrow night. If that’s the case, hey, I’ll take it. Rinne has had a great start to the season and is currently tied for third in wins, and I’m sure his new $49 million dollar contract isn’t hurting his confidence either. If the Preds start Lindback tonight it will probably be a blessing for the Kings, but I’m still not getting my hopes up. Game time is 7:30pm, we’ll see how it all unfolds.
To watch the highlights from Kings vs. Sharks, click here.
Topics: Anders Lindback, Anze Kopitar, Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Dustin Penner, Jack Johnson, Jarret Stoll, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Richards, Nashville Predators, Patrick Marleau, Pekke Rinne, San Jose Sharks, Willie Mitchell