From San Jose
Someone was thoughtful enough to bring Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick a chair while he discussed his brilliant, 51-save performance in the Kings’ 3-1 playoff victory over the Sharks on Saturday night at HP Pavilion. He deserved a throne.
All he did was save a season that appeared headed toward another unsatisfactory ending after they were swept at home and fell into a 3-1 series deficit.
Quick insisted his teammates played a large role in helping him set a club playoff record for saves Saturday because they limited the Sharks to mostly perimeter shots. That was true to an extent. And they gave him some security in the form of first-period goals by Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Clifford and -- yes -- Dustin Penner on their first four shots at Antti Niemi.
But the Kings would not have prolonged their playoff series to a sixth game, set for 7 p.m. Monday at Staples Center, if not for Quick’s calm in the face of 19 shots in the first period and 18 in the third. The 15-shot middle period was a vacation by comparison.
Quick’s sharpness quashed any possibility of a comeback by the Sharks, who had rallied from a 4-0, second-period deficit in Game 3 en route to a 6-5 overtime triumph. After yielding six goals in losing each of the previous two games and toppling to the brink of playoff elimination, Quick said he wasn’t irritated Saturday, just determined.
“I feel if you come in angry it’s only going to take away from your game,” he said. “You just forget about it. You move on. It doesn’t matter how many goals you score in one game, the next game it’s a clean slate so you start over.
“Not too many emotions going in. You’re just trying to be even keel. Make the saves and help the team win.”
Sounds simple. It wasn’t.
The Sharks, knowing they were one victory from advancing to the second round, came out with great energy and revved up the sellout crowd with big hits and some rapid rushes.
“We were prepared for that kind of attitude,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said. “I thought we were OK at the start of the game. Quick was, of course, good there at the start, as he was throughout the game.”
The tide turned at 3:36, when Simmonds deflected a shot by Rob Scuderi that had been deflected by Clifford. At 7:14 Clifford converted the rebound of a shot by Simmonds after a two-on-one break made possible when Brad Richardson stole the puck in the neutral zone, and newly demoted fourth-liner Penner flicked home a pass from Kevin Westgarth at 8:42 after a San Jose turnover to stun the Sharks and their crowd.
“If we expected another miracle we were kidding ourselves,” said Sharks Coach Todd McLellan, who replaced Niemi with Antero Niittymaki after Penner’s goal.
Quick allowed only a rebound at 5:43 of the second period by Patrick Marleau, who led the Sharks with nine shots. Every save by Quick reinforced his teammates’ resolve and confidence.
“A game like this, coming up here, they have all the momentum. We needed a big effort out of him, just like he’s been giving us all year,” defenseman Matt Greene said. “That was awesome. That’s a lot of shots, a lot of saves. He played huge for us.”
Simmonds called Quick’s performance “unbelievable. ... He’s been our best player the majority of the year and he stood on his head.”
Quick said his teammates had a better attitude in front of him in the home-plate area. Murray considers so important.
“I felt I played a little bit better than last time out, too,” Quick said. “It’s a great win overall and we’re looking forward to Game 6.”
The Sharks can close out the series Monday but a win by the Kings would force a seventh game Wednesday in San Jose. That trip is in Greene’s plans.
“We needed to get this back to L.A. and kind of give ourselves a chance to redeem ourselves on home ice,” Greene said.
“I think the fans have done a great job coming out and supporting us. We’ve got to get a win for them. We’ve got to get a win for them and keep us going. If you want to win in the playoffs you’ve got to win on home ice.
“We’ve got to be better in Game 6 and come out ready to play.”