In a game that did not really count, but was still a reminder of how much the Los Angeles Kings (45-26-6) and the San Jose Sharks (48-20-9) hate each other, especially heading into the playoffs, this was a great game to watch. LA clinched a playoff berth last night with a win against the Phoenix Coyotes. San Jose eventually topped Los Angeles, 2-1. Despite the loss, it is good to see two good teams to play at the top of their game, before the playoff for the greatest trophy in sports.
Whatever energy drink, protein shake and/or pregame speech the Kings are getting from head coach Darryl Suter, sure is helping as they once again started a game with a fierce uprising. Last night, against the Coyotes, the Kings needed less than two minutes to get on the board. Tonight, against the second best team in the Pacific Division, it took a little longer.
Three and a half minutes. How dare they.
Jordan Nolan got a deflection to go the way of the Kings as he netted his 6th of the season. Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown helped out on the attack with the assists. Martinez continues to be an offensive genius as he logged his 15th point in 17 games.
Bad news came over the Kings just passed the halfway point of the period as top-line defenseman Drew Doughty left the bench for the locker room. At the time, it was unknown why, but it was suspected to be an upper-body injury by the NBC Analysts, who had no actual way of knowing.
San Jose’s Brent Burns tied the game when he hit a shot well beyond the right circle. It came off the first power play face-off after Dustin Brown got two minutes for face-slamming Andrew Desjardins in retaliation to a questionable hit. San Jose hit some well-placed passes off and made their mark on the game.
A few minutes later, the Sharks turned that mark into an exclamation when Logan Couture capitalized on a rare misfire by goalie Martin Jones. On a scramble to the left of the net, Couture picked out the puck and wrapped it around the net. The Sharks took back the momentum and that did not sit well with LA.
The game was heated at that point. The bad blood was boiling.
Joe Thornton had a hit from behind on Slava Voynov who rightfully retaliated to the cheap shot. They started to scrap, but did not get far with a referee in the middle of them. They only got two minutes each, instead of five.
It was getting really chippy. Playoff chippy.
Despite the elevated aggression, LA and San Jose kept each other in check for an intense third period. Sure, it lead to no goals, but to see these two teams, who have a high probability of meeting in the first round of the playoffs, play as aggressively as they did, is just fabulous.
The Kings next play Saturday night in Vancouver.