STAPLES CENTER — The San Jose Sharks followed up a spectacular first-round sweep of the Vancouver Canucks with just the opposite in their Western Conference Semifinals opener.
A cold, scoreless effort against the defending Stanley Cup champions Tuesday night yielded a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Sharks played solid hockey. They just didn’t score.
That was San Jose head coach Todd McLellan’s takeaway from the loss. He told a room full of reporters:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
Video: CSN Bay Area
“All the clichés, I can stand up here and use them all. But it’s about getting it done, when the night ends you have to have the job done. You can have as many good looks as you want, you can be in all alone, you have to find ways to finish and we have players that are very capable of doing that. We have players that are capable of scoring greasy, dirty playoff-style goals.”
The Sharks outshot their rivals to start but the teams evened out as they approached the end to what seemed to be a scoreless, anticlimactic first period.
But with 13 seconds remaining,the Kings’ Slava Voynov — undefended at the right circle — shot the puck past Antti Niemi to give Los Angeles the 1-0 lead.
The late-period goal seemed devastating, but McLellan denied it:
“I don’t think it was a backbreaker by any means. We talked about it. We have enough veteran players where we should be able to recover from that so I wouldn’t qualify it as a backbreaker.”
Voynov would repeat in the second period, shooting the puck just inside the blue line and deflecting it off teammate Mike Richards’ legs into the net. In spite of outshooting the Kings 11-8, the Sharks trailed 2-0 after two periods.
Sharks center Logan Couture said the Kings made the most of their opportunities:
“They scored a couple on chances. One got tipped off the guy in front, lucky goal, and the other was a nice shot off Voynov.”
The Kings didn’t score in the final period. But they didn’t need to in order to beat the Sharks.
In the visitor’s dressing room, the men in teal didn’t act defeated.
Outshooting Los Angeles 35-20, they attributed their loss as much to Kings goalie Jonathan Quick as they did to their own inability to capitalize on good looks and power plays in all three periods.
Captain Joe Thornton told SFBay:
Sharks center Joe Thornton
Video: CSN Bay Area
“We played great in the first even though they scored. You get 30-something shots, which is hard to do against this team, some way. Some way, we’re going to have to find way to beat them. You try to get some shots and some rebounds, couple of good chances.”
The Sharks didn’t think the week off they had waiting for their next opponent after sweeping the Canucks did them harm.
McLellan, for one, spent six days reviewing the Kings series versus the St. Louis Blues. He said he heard a lot of the same things needing to be done to defeat the strong defensive team that finished just ahead of the Sharks in the standings:
“We can’t be that team again. We have to find ways to score. We have to make it a lot harder on them. Did we generate some chances? Yes. But we didn’t win the game.”
Looking ahead to Game 2 on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Staples Center, Couture nailed down one necessary adjustment:
“Our power plays need to be first of all sharper. More shots. More traffic in front of Jonathan Quick … guys weren’t committed to get in front of him so that needs to change.”
Sharks center Joe Pavelski’s confidence in his team this series rests on what he considered a good game one:
“After tonight, I think everyone in this room feels they’re beatable. It’s not going to be easily – obviously they are Stanley Cup champs, it’s never going to be easy when you’ve got a team that’s learned how to win, but coming out of tonight we feel we can beat them.”
This is the fourth postseason meeting between the Califonia teams but first beyond the opening round. … C Bracken Kearns made his NHL playoff debut in place of Adam Burish. … LW Raffi Torres picked up a charging penalty in the second-period which knocked Jarret Stoll out of the game. Torres has a history of crushing postseason hits, including on Chicago’s Marian Hossa in 2012, and a shoulder-separating blow to Joe Thornton in 2011. … RW Marty Havlat missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. … Patrick Marleau, Scott Hannan and Brad Stuart all played for longtime Sharks coach Darryl Sutter in San Jose before he became the Kings’ head coach.