The week off didn’t seem to hurt the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately for them, a few days off had no negative effect on the Los Angeles Kings, either.
San Jose appeared to have its legs in its first game in a week Tuesday night, but they simply couldn’t finish as many plays as their rivals to the South. The Kings got a goal and an assist from defenseman Slava Voynov and opened the Western Conference Semifinals with a 2-0 win over the Sharks at Staples Center.
Game 2 is Thursday in Los Angeles.
Much was made of whether the streaking Sharks would be affected by a full week off since finishing off a sweep of the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference quarterfinals. San Jose spent a week watching the other series wrap up to determine who its next opponent would be.
And the Sharks were sharp at the outset. San Jose spent the entire first minute of the game in the Los Angeles zone, and then went on the power play at 5:23 when the Kings’ Jake Muzzin was penalized for interfering with San Jose’s Joe Pavelski. The Sharks’ Logan Couture and Pavelski each got high-percentage shots off during the man-advantage, but San Jose couldn’t break through with a goal.
The Sharks had a handful of other good chances to score throughout the first period, but each time Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick was equal to the task. Meanwhile, Los Angeles withstood San Jose’s early pressure and started getting aggressive during the final few minutes of the first period.
During the closing moments of the first period, the Sharks won a faceoff in the Kings zone but the puck wound up in the possession of Los Angeles center Mike Richards. Richards did an effective job of engaging Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin and then left the puck for Voynov, who had plenty of time and space and fired a shot past San Jose goalie Antti Niemi for the score at 19:47.
The Kings won the battle of the ice for most of the second period, including early on when they had several high-quality chances. Niemi made nice saves on shots by Los Angeles’ Dwight King and Trevor Lewis, with Lewis’ coming on a 2-on-1 rush.
The Sharks went on the power play again midway through the second period Anze Kopitar was called for hooking Brent Burns, but this time San Jose didn’t have many good chances. Pavelski shot wide after taking a good centering pass, and Quick made a good save on a high-percentage shot by Raffi Torres with one second remaining on the power play.
The Kings extended the advantage to 2-0 at 12:30 of the second when Voynov’s shot glanced off Richards’ body and past Niemi for a goal. It marked the first time the Sharks had trailed by more than a goal during this postseason.
San Jose had an excellent scoring chance with just over a minute left in the second period but Quick saved Couture’s shot from between the circles. Quick looked behind him momentarily, not completely knowing he had indeed stopped the puck.
The Kings almost made it 3-0 early in the third after Torres was sent off to the penalty box for charging. A couple of shots in front of the net left the puck free in the crease for a couple moments without Niemi knowing. But Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan eventually remedied the situation by diving and pushing the puck away with his glove.
The Sharks then proceeded to put a ton of pressure on Quick for most of the third period, but could never get it past him. Burns had at least three close-range shots off effective centering passes, but each time he was turned back by Quick. Patrick Marleau also had a good chance at 15:57 on a backhand shot, but again it was stopped.
San Jose eventually pulled Niemi with less than two minutes remaining. The Sharks continued to put pressure on Quick with the extra attacker, but never lit the lamp.
STAR OF THE GAME:
Kings defenseman Slava Voynov. Voynov was heavily involved in both Los Angeles goals. He scored the first goal of the game just before time ran out in the first period, and then his shot in the second period deflected off teammate Mike Richards, giving him an assist to make it 2-0.
The Kings have now won five in a row in the postseason, and 11 in a row at home dating back to the regular season. … It was the Sharks’ first loss this postseason. … Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 35 saves. … San Jose’s Bracken Kearns, active because of the injury to Adam Burish, played in his first career Stanley Cup playoff game.
San Jose’s Adam Burish missed the game with an upper body injury he suffered in the final game of the Vancouver series. Martin Havlat continues to be sidelined with a groin injury. Defenseman Jason Demers also missed Game 1 as he still recovers from an injury. For the Kings, defenseman Matt Greene, who missed Los Angeles’ entire first-round series against St. Louis, was still out against the Sharks.
Shots – SJ 35, LA 20. Hits – SJ 37, LA 39. PP – SJ 0-3, LA 0-1.
Game 2 is Thursday night at Staples Center. The Sharks will have to find a way to finish off plays against Quick. They forced him to see a lot of pucks Tuesday night.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jonathan Quick made 35 saves in his sixth career playoff shutout, and the Los Angeles Kings opened their second-round series with a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
Slava Voynov and Mike Richards each had a goal and an assist in the defending Stanley Cup champions' 11th straight victory at Staples Center since March.
With yet another dominant playoff performance by Quick, Los Angeles opened the NHL's fourth all-California playoff series with its fifth straight victory after an 0-2 start to its title defense.
The Kings' Conn Smythe Trophy winner allowed just 10 goals in the six-game first round against St. Louis before frustrating the Sharks, whose superior speed and passing produced nothing.
Antti Niemi stopped 18 shots for the Sharks, who swept Vancouver out of the first round.
Game 2 is Thursday.
Opening a playoff series at home for the first time in 21 years, the Kings got just enough offense from Richards and Voynov, the Kings' promising Siberian defenseman, who had the first multipoint playoff game of his short career.
Quick was on his formidable postseason game all night long, giving nightmares to the Sharks. San Jose scored 15 goals while sweeping third-seeded Vancouver, but Quick stopped every chance while the Sharks largely dominated play, particularly while outshooting Los Angeles 16-4 in the third period.
The Sharks and Kings are meeting in the postseason for the second time in three years, accentuating their already strong in-state rivalry. San Jose eliminated Los Angeles in 2011 on the way to the conference finals, but the Sharks' years of steady excellence were surpassed by the up-and-down Kings when they raised California's second Stanley Cup.
The Kings had not-so-secretly hoped for a second-round Freeway Faceoff with the Anaheim Ducks, who lost to Detroit in seven games - but the Sharks have the champs' full attention.
Los Angeles beat San Jose 3-2 in both clubs' regular-season finale to finish in fifth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Sharks.
That's how Los Angeles got home-ice advantage in this series, starting at home in the postseason for the first time since the 1992 opening round against Edmonton.
The Sharks began Game 1 at a furious pace, generating numerous early scoring chances and keeping the Kings on their heels. Quick immediately had to make a handful of remarkable saves before Los Angeles matched the tempo, and Voynov put the Kings ahead with 12.9 seconds left in the first period when he ripped a slap shot through traffic on a rush.
Voynov scored two goals in the opening round against St. Louis, and both were game-winners - including the clutch overtime score in Game 5 that allowed Los Angeles to finish off the series at home two days later.
Quick turned aside several good Sharks chances in the second period before Los Angeles doubled its lead. Voynov ripped a long shot that redirected off Richards, the Kings' leading postseason scorer with seven points in seven games.
The goal gave the Kings their first two-goal lead of the entire postseason, and the Sharks had their first two-goal deficit of the playoffs.
Shortly after the Kings' first power play early in the third period, the puck ended coming to a complete stop next to Niemi in his crease without the goalie knowing where it was. Scott Hannan dived to knock the puck away with his hand.
NOTES: Sharks RW Marty Havlat missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Jarret Stoll was hit illegally by San Jose's Raffi Torres late in the second period, and Los Angeles' veteran center didn't play in the third.... Kings coach Darryl Sutter coached current Sharks Patrick Marleau, Hannan and Brad Stuart during his tenure in San Jose from 1997-2003. Marleau, the franchise scoring leader, was an 18-year-old rookie on Sutter's first team in San Jose.