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Offense AWOL in Game 5
Sharks failt to finish off Kings again
4/26/14 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings got real on Saturday night. With their second chance to end the series, San Jose misfired, crawling into a hole and covering up. Rather than taking control of things on home ice, the Sharks laid down and forced a Game 6 in Los Angeles on Monday night after dropping a 3-0 decision to the Kings. Saturday night's game amounted to what everyone thought this series would be like, with the Kings playing a more physical style and the Sharks leaning on their money players. Only problem is, those money players failed to show any signs of life.

After scoring 20 goals in the first 4 games of the series, the Sharks were lucky to be credited with 5 quality scoring chances during the entire 60 minutes on Saturday. The Kings jumped out to a quick lead then coasted by clamping down on a lackluster Sharks offense that seemed content with their mediocre play.

The Kings employed a sound battle plan. Score a pair of goals, then start taking out the opposition with shots to the head. Such was the case for Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who left the game in the 1st period after Jarret Stoll caught him in the back of the head with an elbow. Solid plan indeed. A plan that San Jose should employ one day. Play with an attitude that the welfare of your opposition should be secondary to winning. Win at all costs.

But San Jose will never employ such a strategy. They are bound to play with the honorable code that their General Manager Doug Wilson played by. The same General Manager who won nothing in an extended career for a team that had plenty of opportunities. Sound familiar?

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan did nothing to react to the Stoll hit. Rather than sending a message, McLellan waited along with the 17,000 plus in attendance for his marquee players to show up. They never did. McLellan could have sacrificed a role player by having him jump on the ice with the intent to retaliate for the Vlasic hit, but he did what he always does. He tugged on his lapels and sat stoically behind the bench, hoping something would miraculously change. It didn't of course.

The Kings grabbed the 1st period lead that they need to 8:09 in to the game. Tyler Toffoli took a Tanner Pearson feed on the right side then side stepped James Sheppard before snapping a shot past Antti Niemi. Sheppard's lackluster attempt to defend against Toffoli and Niemi's continued absence between the pipes turned a mundane shot into the game's first goal.

Anze Kopitar made it 2-0 five minutes later, depositing a rebound after Dustin Brown bounced a shot off Niemi form the right side. San Jose allowed the Kings to gain the upper hand with a 3-on-2 break after a shot attempt in the Kings zone kicked out to the neutral zone. Two Sharks forwards failed to get back on defense.

Los Angeles outshot San Jose 18-6 in the opening 20 minutes, which immediately led to milk cartons being printed for the Sharks offense.

With the two goal lead, Stoll took out Vlasic and just like that the Sharks were left to play the remaining 45 minutes with 5 defensemen.

One of those defensemen was Justin Braun who tripped Marion Gaborik with 32 seconds left in the opening period. San Jose made it to the break unscathed, but Los Angeles would capitalize when play resumed.

Jeff Carter sent a backhand chance from outside the left post past Niemi, bouncing it off Brad Stuart's skate. The goal spelled the end of the night for Niemi, who was pulled in place of Alex Stalock.

Stalock did his job, stopping all 22 shots he faced, but the Sharks offense was essentially non-existent. San Jose failed to expose Quick, who played like a leaky colander in the first 4 games of the series. How an offense like the Sharks can't score a single goal against a wounded goaltender like Quick will go down as one of the world's great mysteries.

Now McLellan has a decision to make. Does he start Stalock in Game 6, or does he keep Niemi's questionable game in net? Does he change his offensive strategy for the first time in years, or does he lean on his star players to play their underachieving brand of cycle the puck hockey once again? Does he ask his players to win at all costs, or does he have them continue to play gentleman's hockey, more suited for a golf course, than a hockey rink?

We'll see.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
LA 2 1 0 3
SJ 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, LA, Toffoli 2 (Pearson, Martinez), 8:09. 2, LA, Kopitar 1 (Brown), 12:52.
2nd period - 3, LA, Carter 2 (Gaborik, Doughty), 0:22, (pp).
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Stoll, LA (roughing), 14:09; Braun, SJ (tripping), 19:28.
2nd period - King, LA (roughing), 4:03; Demers, SJ (roughing), 4:03; Boyle, SJ (tripping), 7:12; Clifford, LA (tripping), 13:24; Carter, LA (roughing), 19:23.
3rd period - Burns, SJ (tripping), 0:16; Kopitar, LS (goaltender interference), 1:08; Marleau, SJ (slashing), 7:05; Demers, SJ (tripping), 10:19; Williams, LA (interference), 14:22.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
LA - Quick 30 30
SJ - Niemi 19 16
SJ - Stalock 22 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
LA 18 13 10 41
SJ 6 10 14 30
Power Play Conversion
LA 1 of 4
SJ 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Jonathan Quick
Drew Doughty
Jeff Carter
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Joannette, Pollack. Linesmen: Heyer, MacPherson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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