Unlike last year’s 2013 playoffs, this year’s Los Angeles Kings found their groove – though late – and never looked back. They destroyed the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in San Jose’s legendary “Shark Tank” to complete their “reverse sweep” of the Sharks and move on to the next level of their NHL playoff run.
Playing in a series that looked ugly for the Kings from the start, their turn around is among the best ever in NHL playoff history; the Kings being the 4th team to ever recover and win a 7-game series after being down three games to zero.
In another first, the Kings’ stellar comeback also means they’ll be facing off with their cross-town rival Anaheim Ducks in their second round playoff series.
The highly anticipated match put the Kings in position to join the only other teams in NHL playoff history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series: The Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942; the 1975 New York Islanders; and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.
While the first period showed some hard hits and aggressive play, neither the Sharks nor the Kings could find the net.
But the second period had barely started, when San Jose’s Matt Irwin smacked one in for the Sharks with hardly a minute off the clock.
Despite several penalties being called against the Kings, resulting in power play opportunities for the Sharks, the Kings’ penalty killing was a rough thing of beauty, and their offensive attack was ultimately lethal for San Jose.
In order for the Kings to write their miracle comeback story, they had to make things happen, and in the second period, they did.
Taking advantage of their own power play opportunity, Drew Doughty tied the score for his Kings, 1-1, and Anze Kopitar put in the go-ahead goal with 1:21 remaining in the second period to make it 2-1 Kings.
But the foundation of the Los Angeles Kings turn around, and a key component to the game 7 victory, was Kings’ goal keeper, Jonathan Quick. Among the best in the game, and the Kings’ keeper when they won the Stanley Cup, Quick tore the Sharks’ hearts out with save after save.
In fact, San Jose’s frustration was clearly defined when Patrick Marleau looked to have a certain goal but Quick, once again living up to his name, snatched the puck with a glove save right on the goal line. A score there would have put the Sharks up 2-1, but that is not how things went.
The Kings went on to dominate the 3rd period, ultimately propping up their 5-1 win with some open net goals as the Sharks pulled their goalkeeper in a desperate attempt to save their season.
“That was a great feeling,” said the Kings’ Drew Doughty. “Like we said from Game 4 on, Game 1 really, we believed in ourselves from the first game. Even though we went down 3-0, we were never going to give up.”
“They fixed their problems,” said Sharks coach, Todd McLellan. “We didn’t. Our problems got progressively worse as we went along.”
With the Los Angeles Kings making history, they could be peaking at the ideal time, just like when they won the Stanley Cup two years ago.
Images via Yahoo Sports