Kings deliver at home again, 3-0
Momentum, the great myth of playoff hockey.
At least it is when it comes to this particularly hard-fought series between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks. It has been a rumor, and maddeningly elusive at times.
And now, the Kings have grabbed custody of it after their 3-0 victory over the Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night at Staples Center. Goalie Jonathan Quick, who faced 24 shots, recorded his third shutout in 11 playoff games this spring and seventh of his career in the playoffs. It moved him past goalie Kelly Hrudey for the most playoff wins in team history with 27.
The Kings, who are on a team-record 13-game home winning streak, moved a game within reaching the conference finals, taking a three games-to-two lead over the Sharks. Game 6 is on Sunday at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks have won twice against the Kings this series. Detroit holds a 3-1 lead over Chicago in the other West semifinal.
Game 7, if necessary, would be Tuesday at Staples.
Two of the Kings goals came from two struggling players: center Anze Kopitar and defenseman Slava Voynov. Forward Jeff Carter added an empty-netter with 31.2 seconds remaining. For Kopitar, who scored at 18:08 of the second period, it was his second goal of the playoffs and first of this series.
Voynov has been thrown off his game by the strength and speed of the Sharks, in particular, the efforts of Sharks defenseman-turned-forward Brent Burns. Voynov’s insurance goal came on the power play, a shot through traffic from the right point, just 53 seconds into the third period to make it 2-0.
The heavy lifting on that goal was done by Kings center Trevor Lewis who won a faceoff in the right circle from the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, who was an impressive force in that department in Game 4 at San Jose on Tuesday.
What was interesting about that, among other things, is that Lewis was moved to center after Kings center Jarret Stoll suffered a concussion in Game 1 of the series after a hit from the Sharks’ Raffi Torres. Torres was suspended for the rest of this round and Stoll remains out indefinitely.
Lewis is hardly a novice at the position, having played there earlier in his career. Still, once Lewis got moved back, by necessity, he treated it like a project, telling NBC announcers Thursday morning that he has been studying film of the Sharks’ centers in the faceoff circle.
The goal, he told them, was not to lose faceoffs cleanly.
Apparently, Lewis is one quick study.
“It’s been a while since I took a lot of draws. It’s something I’ve worked on,” Lewis said. “I just turned and it was behind me. Slava did a great job of getting that shot through.”
The Kings are 7-1 when they have led a series three games to two, and Game 5 was the first time in this series they were better than 50% on faceoffs, edging the Sharks, 51-49%.
Sharks center Logan Couture found plenty of other issues.
“We did a lot of things wrong,” Couture said. “There are 25 different things I could tell you.”
One of them starts with the Sharks trying to solve Quick, again,
“We definitely had our chances. We’ve just got to bear down,” Thornton said
There was already the Torres suspension and then Sharks forward TJ Galiardi on Wednesday said to Sharks’ beat reporters that Quick engaged in “a little embellishment.”
That brought forth a spirited defense of Quick from defenseman Drew Doughty, who shot back that Galiardi was “the biggest diver on their team.”
He added about Quick: “He’s not diving. He’s not flopping. Quickie is tough as nails.”
Galiardi ended up, of all things, taking a minor penalty late in the third period when he interfered with Quick.
Doughty, for sure was right about one thing. On this night, after 24 saves and another shutout, the verdict was in:
Quick, indeed, was as tough as nails in the crease.
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