Game 4: Sharks 6, Kings 3
To peep out all the videos online about this game, check out today’s Hockeywood Dailies.
Expectations in L.A. were high for Game Four, especially since it was the first game since the epic meltdown. After all, if the Kings came back and won the game to tie the series, all the negativity surrounding Game Three would be muffled slightly.
Instead, the Kings were once again outgunned by the high-octane Sharks to push L.A. to the brink of elimination. And no amount of timeouts would ever change that fact.
Remember, the Sharks had seven players with at least 20 goals in the regular season. Talk about offensive balance. That said, it doesn’t seem that impressive until you see how effective they can be when that offensive machine is clicking on al cylinders.The Kings got a front row view of that on Thursday night.
Jonathan Quick and the Kings survived a frenzied Shark attack in the first period. Quick especially came up big, with huge saves on point-blank shots by Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. However, the Kings couldn’t crack the Sharks defense, who looked equally as focused.
It was during the second period that the wheels fell off. Drew Doughty just egged on by veteran Scott Nichol and both get tossed for roughing. When you have a fourth-line crappy player (who only played a tick under seven minutes) negate your top defenseman (who led all skaters with 26+ minutes), bad things are going to happen.
Playing four-on-four and with Doughty in the box, the Sharks quickly struck twice. Then Nichol does a blade job after Matt Greene pops him in the head to start squirting out some Type AB to draw a four-minute major. Ryane Clowe scored his second of the game to make it 3-0.
The official top three stars of the game had Clowe and rookie Logan Couture as the top two, but really the star of the game was Nichol, whose heads-up play and paper-thin skin positioned the Sharks to take Game Four.
3-0 lead? Game over? Not so fast… Coach Terry Murray finally does something fans have been imploring him to do: he took a timeout. The Kings come right back and get goals from Brad Richardson and Justin Williams to make it 3-2 right before the third period. It looked like there was plenty of fight left in the Kings. Maybe there is something to taking a timeout to allow the team to regroup.
Third period, however, the Sharks finished off the game with three more goals to push the game out of reach. Too bad Murray didn’t have more than one timeout.
Truth be told, the Sharks are just a better team. Especially with Anze Kopitar out, the Kings’ only hope was to shut down the Sharks defensively. But even then, Kopitar’s two-way play is desperately missed. Quick can only do so much, and the defense can only lock down so many Sharks. Problem, the Sharks are really like a pack of reef sharks. They hunt in packs and come at you in waves.
Game Five is back at the Shark Tank, and nothing would be better than to steal another in San Jose. But after giving up 12 goals in two games, I’m not so sure that may happen.
The Kings had a 5-on-3 for much of the final 3 minutes after Dany Heatley was penalized for tripping and Nichol got a 10-minute misconduct, but they failed to convert. The frustrated Kings got two 10-minute misconducts themselves in the closing seconds.
The identity the Kings had sweated and strained to build over six grueling months was shattered this week in two playoff losses to the San Jose Sharks, defeats that left the Kings at the brink of elimination and shoved them backward in their apparently never-ending rebuilding process.
• LAKings.com: Kings nipped by Sharks
The Kings now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, and face elimination when they face the Sharks in Game 5 in San Jose on Saturday night. After a 15-minute, closed-door meeting, the Kings seemed frustrated, and with good reason.
For a while Thursday night it looked like the San Jose Sharks might become the latest team to squander a rather hefty lead in a Stanley Cup playoff game. A couple of Joes – Sharks centers Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski – made sure it didn’t happen.
They said it
“We were one of the best defensive teams in the league this year. This is totally unacceptable, and we’re letting ourselves down. This is crunch time. A lot of work went into this, to get to the playoffs. We don’t want to let it slide away. Just like last game, we’ve got to pick up our pace. We’re going to San Jose to win, and get this thing back here.” – Justin Williams, on the game.
“Stop them from scoring six goals a game. We’re not going to win a game if they score six goals a game. It’s the just the way it is. We’ve had success in scoring goals in the series fortunately, but we’re not an offensive team, we’re a defensive team, and if we’re letting in that many goals we’re in a lot of trouble. We can’t let them score.” – Jack Johnson, on the need for improvement.
“They scored a couple big goals on the 4-on-4 to get things going, a couple back-to-back, and then followed it up with a power-play goal. We battled back. We just had some missed coverages again. I don’t know. It’s tough.” – Justin Williams, on when the game turned.
“You can’t lose Doughty to Nichol. But Nichol, give him credit. He’s the reason why they won tonight. Because they scored two goals on it, and then they end up scoring a goal on the double-minor, Greene in the box. So it’s three goals directly responsible from Nichol’s play.” – Terry Murray, on the game.