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Sharks take Game 1 from Kings 4-3
Joe Pavelski pots a pair of goals to lead SJ
4/14/15 - By Mike Lee -

To say the Sharks have some playoffs demons to exercise against the Los Angeles Kings would be a bit of an understatement. They kicked off the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a step in the right direction as they topped the Kings by a 4-3 score at Staples Center. One game does not a playoff series make, but the Sharks know they can compete and the road has been their comfort zone this season.

San Jose played a solid road game, especially under the pressure of the playoffs, keeping things close and striking at opportune times. The two teams traded the lead four times, but it was the Sharks that skated away with the 1-0 series lead.

Their regular season success against the Kings translated to Game 1, where they kept things simple and capitalized on their chances.

LA struck first, when Jake Muzzin bounced a shot off Tomas Hertl's skate and into a wide open net 2:53 into the game. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones was forced to come out of his net to defend Muzzin on the left side. Once Jones fell to the ice, The Kings forward tried to send a pass to Milan Lucic on the far side, but ended up banking the shot off Hertl for the 1-0 Kings lead.

Anze Kopitar setup a Sharks power play moments later after drawing an interference call. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski made the Kings pay by pumping home a shot past Jonathan Quick from the high slot. Brent Burns setup the one-time chance with a feed from the right side, setting up the sharks first goal of the playoffs.

Brent Burns staked the Sharks to their first lead of the night 6:50 into the 2nd period by whipping a shot from the right point that hit Luke Schenn in the skate, deflecting past Quick. The shot came after Joel Ward won a face-off on the right side, pulling the puck back to Burns.

Ward took an interference penalty on the ensuing face-off that stung San Jose. Los Angeles was the benefactor of another fluke bounce to get a puck past Jones. Jeff Carter carried the puck around the left corner as he skated back toward the net, sending a backhand pass to Milan Lucic in the slot. The puck never got to Lucic after it hit defenseman Paul Martin's stick, then bounced off Jones' back and into the net.

It wasn't really a night of conventional goals for the Kings.

Defenseman Drew Doughty hooked Ward to give the Sharks their 4th power play of the night, but Trevor Lewis turned the tables on San Jose. The Kings forward raced up ice after intercepting a pass in the Sharks zone on the penalty kill. Brent Burns back-skated to defend the play, but elected to try and cutoff Lewis' shooting options by falling to the ice. Lewis waited for Burns momentum to carry him out of the shooting lane before lifting a shot past Jones. Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton were late top get back allowing Lewis to push the Kings on top 3-2.

That lead lasted all of 30 seconds.

Tomas Hertl punched home his 1st goal of the playoffs at the end of a wild scrum in front of the Kings net. Joonas Donskoi fired a shot from the left side that Quick denied with some deft footwork. The puck bounced out to the slot where Joel Ward tried to get a shot off, but his stick was tied up by Carter. The puck trickled away from Ward, but Hertl pounced on it as Quick tried to center himself. The Kings didn't tie up Hertl's stick, which connected on a shot that fired the puck between Quick's pads.

Pavelski scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal 17 seconds into the 3rd period. The Sharks forward carried the puck around the back from the net from right to left before cutting around the left post and whipping a shot into the Kings goal. The shot hit the right post and deflected across the goal line, but it was an anti-climactic tally as nobody seemed to even know that it was in the goal.

Tyler Toffoli just missed tying the game 4 minutes into the period when his shot hit the right post. The Kings were hard pressed to come closer to that chance.

The drama would come at the end of the game, as the Sharks were forced to defend their one-goal lead against an onslaught by the Kings. Quick's protege Jones was up to the challenge, stopping a flurry of chances in the last two minutes of the game.

Taking Game 1 was a big step forward, and it immediately shifts the home ice advantage back to San Jose. There's still Game 2 to get through, but they've already accomplished their first goal. Exercising some of those demons is a start, but there's still al ot of work to do.

Game Notes:

* Marc-Edouard Vlasic made his return to the Sharks lineup after a lengthy absence to nurse an injury. The defenseman picked up where he left off, skating on a team high 28 shifts over a 23:23 span. Vlasic was a +2 with 3 blocked shots.

* Joonas Donskoi recorded his first playoff point, assisting on Hertl's goal. The rookie was all over the ice, and created a big problem for the Kings who had difficulties containing his speed.

* After losing 12 of 18 face-offs in the opening period, the Sharks battled back to take the face-off battle, winning 32 of 59 draws. Joe Thornton won 8 of 9 draws to lead San Jose.

* Brent Burns led all skaters with 4 shots on goal.

* The two teams combined for 68 hits in the game. Tommy Wingels led both teams with 7 hits in the contest.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 1 4
LA 1 2 0 3
1st period - 1, LA, Muzzin 1 (Lucic, Pearson), 2:53. 2, SJ, Pavelski 1 (Burns, Couture), 6:25, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Burns 1 (Ward), 6:50. 4, LA, Carter 1 (Lucic, Kopitar), 7:30, (pp). 5, LA, Lewis 1 (unassisted), 17:18, (sh). 6, SJ, Hertl 1 (Ward, Donskoi), 17:48.
3rd period - 7, SJ, Pavelski 2 (Braun), 0:17.
1st period - Kopitar, LA (interference), 5:46; Lecavalier, LA (hooking), 9:36.
2nd period - Vlasic, SJ (interference), 3:48. Ward, SJ (interference), 6:52; Muzzin, LA (hooking), 9:47; Polak, SJ (hooking), 13:27; Doughty, LA (hooking), 15:47.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 22 19
LA - Quick 23 19
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 12 3 23
LA 5 9 8 22
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 4
LA 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Milan Lucic
Joel Ward
Referees: Meier, Pollock. Linesmen: Galloway, Kovachik.
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