SAP CENTER — Many expected the Sharks and Kings would play a seven-game series, full of the of drama and stomach-clenching intensity that dominated their final tilt.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
But the only feelings left at the end of sixty minutes of play were deflation and sadness as the San Jose dropped their final game to Los Angeles 5-1.
With the loss, the Sharks completed their failure to capitalize a 3-0 series lead to end their 2014 playoff run.
A very sad Joe Thornton addressed the media following the loss:
“So disappointed right now. I felt like we had some good chances it just didn’t go in. It’s just a tough pill to swallow right now.”
Head coach Todd McLellan summed up the loss as a result of the team’s play declining over the course of the series:
“When I look at it, I think they fixed their problems, we didn’t. Our problems got progressively worse as we went along.”
The first frame was scoreless but the pace was incredible. Both teams had chances, which San Jose getting a few great looks but unable find the back of the net in the first twenty.
Antti Niemi had a few big saves, with three coming on a Sharks penalty kill that kept Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams from finding the back of the net.
The pace continued right into the second period. With pressure in Kings territory right off the opening faceoff, Matt Irwin posted up in the point and lined the puck through traffic and past Jonathan Quick’s view for his first NHL playoff goal.
Tomas Hertl and James Sheppard registered assists as the Sharks hopped on the board 1-0 28 seconds into the second stanza.
At the tail end of a Tommy Wingels hooking penalty, Logan Couture was sent to the box on, arguably, a very poor elbowing call. Not 13 seconds later, Drew Doughty beat Niemi to tie things up 1-1.
The Sharks garnered several attempts on the man advantage but the Quick wouldn’t budge. An attempt by Patrick Marleau that appeared to go into the Kings’ net went to a video review, but was called a no-goal, sending the crowd at the Tank into a frenzy of boos.
LA notched another goal with a shot from Anze Kopitar that hit the net above Niemi’s head at 1:21 left in the second period to give the Kings a 2-1 advantage.
Tyler Toffoli added to the Kings lead in the third, going top shelf to give LA a 3-1 lead.
San Jose went for a last gasp attempt to put another goal on the board and pulled Niemi for a sixth skater. But LA got possession, and Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson both buried empty-netters for the 5-1 final.
San Jose ended the night — and their 2014 campaign — 0-for-6 on the power play.
It’s a game that Couture — who was openly unhappy with his own level of play — admitted he won’t be able to sleep on:
“I’ll be thinking about this series all summer. Every single day. What I could’ve done differently to help my team. It’s tough… They’re a great hockey team over there… It’s just so disappointing that we were able to go up 3-0, and couldn’t find that killer instinct… It’s tough saying it, but the better team won the series. They were better than us.”
Joe Pavelski played in his 81st career playoff game as a member of the San Jose Sharks. He surpassed former Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov for 4th place on the Sharks all-time playoff games played list. …Matt Irwin scored his first career playoff goal. It was also his first point of the 2014 playoffs. … James Sheppard picked up his fourth assist of the 2014 playoffs. He had a point in five of seven games during the 2014 playoffs. He also had a game-high nine hits. … Tomas Hertl earned his third career playoff assist. He now has five career playoff points.