Western Semi Final, Game 5: Kings Lose 2-1, series tied 3-3
SAN JOSE – For the sixth time in this series, the home team has won. On home ice, teams are 6-0 in this series and if the Los Angeles Kings have any hopes of advancing to the Western Conference Final, they will need to keep that streak going as tonight’s 2-1 win by San Jose forces a seventh and deciding game at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
Early on in the game, the Kings found themselves behind the 8-ball the same way they found themselves so many times before: by taking penalties. Regardless whether they were good or bad calls, Los Angeles was short two men early and the Sharks made them pay as Joe Thornton opened the scoring 6:09 into the contest to draw first blood for the home side.
Despite the lead, the opening period was fairly even as the Kings outshot the Sharks 9-8 while both goaltenders did what they’d been doing all series long: stealing the show. But just 4:10 into the second, San Jose created some breathing room for themselves as TJ Galiardi, who was critical of Jonathan Quick‘s knack for “embellishment” earlier, potted his first of the postseason to give his Sharks a two-goal lead.
Not long after, Justin Williams was called for a four-minute double-minor giving the Sharks a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach. But the Kings, to their credit, held strong and were able to kill off the penalty before Dustin Brown scored on a bad-angle shot to pull Los Angeles to within a goal. From there, the Kings turned the tide in momentum but just could not get the equalizer before the second expired. Through 40 minutes, the shots were even at 17 apiece.
In the third, most Kings fans assumed that their team would be hungrier than ever to tie the game and ultimately try to end the series. But that wasn’t the case. While the Kings did try to generate a few chances, the home team just wanted it more on this night as they held the Kings at bay holding on for the 2-1 win to send this series back to the City of Angels.
All three wins in San Jose this series have ended in 2-1 scores which is a testament to how close this series has been. Of course, that doesn’t help the Kings. The urgency wasn’t quite at the level it could have been tonight and the silver-and-black also could have been much better in the faceoff circle. In fact, when Anze Kopitar won a faceoff late in the San Jose zone, it was disheartening to see the puck roll past Drew Doughty and out of the zone on a play which the Kings were not able to recover from.
Jonathan Quick was great stopping 24 of 26 shots giving his team countless opportunities to stay in the game but San Jose’s Antti Niemi was one better and it was the difference as the Sharks hope they have some Game 7 magic in store for themselves two nights from now.