The first five minutes of this game was everything anyone could have hoped for in this series. There were 22 hits, a full-on scrum behind the Kings net after Mike Brown knocked Slava Voynov into Jonathan Quick and a goal by the Sharks after Quick had lost the puck.
It was everything expected and then some between two division foes who are meeting for the third time in four years. The Kings had won in seven last year and the Sharks beat the Kings in six back in 2011, so there was enough hostilities there to brew into a rivalry. This was a highly anticipated series.
Then the first period continued. The stats sheet said that the Kings got the better of the Sharks in hits: 29-26. But those Sharks players who weren’t being hit were busying going on odd-man rushes. The Sharks got off 14 shots that got to Quick while attempting 27 in all. The Kings attempted 11 shots with only eight getting to Sharks netminder Antti Niemi.
Quick played strong and kept the Kings in the game. Then the final minute happened. Tomas Hertl found the open net to give the Sharks the 2-0 lead. 48 seconds later it was Patrick Marleau finding the open net.
20 minutes in, and the Kings had a 3-0 deficit to try and crawl out of, but it got worse.
The Sharks showed that not only were the offensively dangerous, they learned how to be physical. They were either faster than the Kings or knocking the Kings off of where they wanted to be. After Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s shot hit the post in the middle of the second period, noted ruffian Raffi Torres found the rebound and shot it past Quick for the 4-0 lead. Later Vlasic got the power play goal that signaled the end of the game.
Every Kings and Oilers fans will remember the Miracle on Manchester that took place on April 10, 1982. The Oilers had a 5-0 lead in the third period of Game 3 of their five-game series. The series was tied at a game apiece, and the Kings proceeded to tie the game in the waning seconds to the delight of the delirious fans in the Forum. Daryl Evans, current radio color commentator, got the game winner 2:35 in overtime for the improbable win.
The Kings did their best impression of that team. Jake Muzzin got a goal two minutes into the third period, and Slava Voynov got an unassisted goal several minutes later. Trevor Lewis really put a scare in San Jose with six minutes left to make it only a two-goal lead for the Sharks.
But it was too little, too late. Brent Burns sealed the game with an empty-netter with 54.7 seconds left giving the Sharks the 6-3 victory.
Yesterday I told a few people on Twitter that I thought the Sharks would win the series in 7 since they had home-ice advantage. Lord knows what we’ll see in Game 2, but I’ll still hold firm to that prediction.