On Thursday, April 14, 2016, the Los Angeles Kings officially began their postseason quest for the Stanley Cup. Although the Kings scored the first goal of the game and held the lead twice, they came up on the short end of a 4-3 score in their opening round game against the San Jose Sharks. Despite the energy generated by the sellout crowd of 18, 230 at STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles, the Kings were unable to prevent their Pacific division rival from stealing home-ice advantage.
Because of the loss, the Kings now must win at least one road game, if they are to ultimately defeat the Sharks in this best-of-seven first round divisional playoff series. The Kings were able to dominate the early stages of the game, but as time went on, the ebb and flow began to flow much more in favor of the Sharks.
The home team got on the board first, when Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin carried the puck deep into the San Jose zone and threw the puck into the goal crease, directly in front of San Jose netminder Martin Jones. It deflected off the skate of Sharks forward Tomas Hertl and went past Jones at 2:53 to put the Kings up 1-0. At this point, the Kings had all the momentum and were playing a great puck-possession game, but the tide would soon turn.
At 5:46 of the first period, Kings forward Anze Kopitar took a penalty for interference. Once the resulting power play began, it took just 39 seconds for Joe Pavelski to score the game-tying goal, on what was the Sharks first shot on goal of the game. The Sharks went on to outshoot the Kings 8-5 in the first period, though there was no more scoring.
In the second period, the Sharks continued to press the attack. San Jose defenseman Brent Burns gave his team it’s first lead of the night, when he put the puck past goaltender Jonathan Quick, at 6:50. The Kings quickly answered back, when Jeff Carter scored just 40 seconds later. As the period was winding down, Kings forward Trevor Lewis scored a short-handed goal, at 17:18. Any change of momentum, either real or imagined, was short-lived, as San Jose forward Tomas Hertl scored a goal 30 seconds later.
The second period ended with the score tied 3-3, with San Jose again having outshot the Kings again by a margin of three, as the shots on goal totals were 12-9 in favor of the visiting team. When the third period began, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski wasted no time in getting his team back on top by a score of 4-3, as he scored just 17 seconds after the opening faceoff. From there, the Sharks would register just two more shots on goal, but Sharks goalie Martin Jones did not yield on any of the Kings’ 10 shots on goal.
Said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer during postgame meeting with media, “I think we’re a confident team. Obviously we have a lot of respect for L.A. and the building that we’re playing in, but there was no panic there. I liked our response. We fell behind one nothing and we fell behind three-two and both times came back with big responses. I think we’re comfortable on the road and we played a real good road game.”
The series resumes on Saturday, April 16 with a game at STAPLES Center. Start time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT. Games three and four will then be played in San Jose on Monday, April 18 and Wednesday, April 20. Barring a four-game sweep by San Jose, the teams will then return to Los Angeles for game five, on Friday, April 22.
April 14, 2016 – San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings. Final score: SJS 4, LAK 3. Final shots on goal: LAK 24, SJS 23. Power play: LAK 1/3, SJS 1/4. Three stars of the game: 1) Joe Pavelski – SJS, 2) Milan Lucic – LAK, 3) Joel Ward – SJS. Goaltenders: LAK – Jonathan Quick, SJS – Martin Jones.
Kings forward line combinations:
Kings defense pairings: Doughty/McNabb, Scuderi/Martinez, Muzzin/Schenn
Sharks forward line combinations:
Sharks defense pairings: Burns/Martin, Braun/Vlasic, Polak/Dillon