Thursday, April 14, 2011

San Jose Sharks Get By L.A. Kings In Game 1 Slugfest

Joe Pavelski's game-winning goal at the 14:44 mark of OT snuck the San Jose Sharks past the Los Angeles Kings last night in front of a rowdy crowd at HP Pavilion.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan had said it all week. The playoffs were going to be a matter of getting to three goals first for the Sharks. And at the end of two periods, McLellan's ideology proved correct, as the game was tied 2-2 heading into the third period and then into overtime, as well.

It was about momentum in Game 1.

In the 1st period, it was all about the Sharks after a slick feed from Ryane Clowe lead to a Dany Heatley goal just 28 seconds into the game sending the Shark Tank into utter chaos.

Chants of "Beat LA" sounded throughout the arena time and time again, especially after the game got rough between the two teams midway through the 1st period.

Clowe was leader of the rough play that set the tone for the game between the two teams. That only escalated after Ian White was driven head first into the boards by Jarret Stoll resulting in an injured White and an exit from the game.

White's injury was immediately payed back when Ben Eager went to blows with Kyle Clifford just minutes later sending the arena into a frenzy yet again.

Heading into the locker room after the 1st period, the two teams continued to churp at each other, again lead by Clowe.

The second period, although toned down, was about the Kings.

A goal by Dustin Brown tied the game 1-1 after Logan Couture's short-handed break-away shot went wide and created a fast-break for the Kings.

But it wouldn't take long for Couture to make-up for his mistake.

He struck back with a goal of his own just three minutes later to put the Sharks ahead once again.

But the much-coveted momentum swayed the Kings' way again when a surprisingly healthy Justin Williams scored after another mistake by the Sharks, this time behind their own net.

Heading into the third period, the Kings had the Sharks off balance and owned the momentum.

In the third period, the Sharks were almost lack-luster showing no steam. The Kings dictated the pace of play and the Sharks were just trying to hold on and head into overtime it seemed.

The Sharks would make it to overtime, and after a stalemate in which both the Kings and Sharks switched momentum throughout, it was ultimately Joe Pavelski with the heroics.

Pavelski, the playoff hero from last season, hit the back of the net after almost 15 minutes of overtime play to give the Sharks the Game 1 win.

It almost seems as though the Sharks squeaked by with this one. They were weary, tired and looked like they had run out of gas for the majority of that third period, and then again in the overtime period.

One thing to take away from the game was that the Sharks made two mistakes all night and they both lead to goals for the Kings, which were the only ones they scored. Limiting mistakes.

Besides that, the Sharks' penalty kill was much-improved with the return of Scott Nichol. He seemed to make the difference on a penalty kill that has been lacking for the Sharks since he has been injured.

But that did not take the spotlight away from the Kings' penalty kill. The Sharks went 0 for 3 on the power play, and one in which they never got a shot off.

The Sharks will have to find a way for their third-ranked power play to get past the Kings' fourth-ranked penalty kill in Game 2.

All in all, it was a game of back-and-forths, but a gritty win that the Sharks will take any night.

They came out on fire, and ended on fire. They will just need to learn to keep that fire throughout the entire game in Game 2.

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