San Jose and Los Angeles have never faced each other in the playoffs and while some worried that that might lead to a slow, timid start to the series those worries were put aside almost immediately as the hits came fast and furious and the animosity immediately kicked in.
Just like last year’s playoffs, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski helped be the most clutch guy in the building putting San Jose over Los Angeles 3-2 in overtime with the game-winner in the extra session taking out a very game Kings squad.
The two sides traded blows both physically and on the scoreboard and it was Dany Heatley scoring just 28 seconds into the game that gave Kings fans a feeling of dread that Game 1 might prove to be a long night.
The Kings would battle back throughout though as the second period saw L.A. get back into things getting a goal from Dustin Brown to tie things at one. The Sharks would get it right back though as Logan Couture scored his first playoff goal slipping one past Jon Quick (42 saves) to get San Jose ahead 2-1.
Surprise starter Justin Williams would help L.A. tie things up late in the second period as he was able to sneak around behind the net and stuff one past Antti Niemi (33 saves) to make it a 2-2 game. The third period would see the teams trade chances as well as see the Kings kill a late penalty to help send the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Kings brought their best play of the night and while Brad Richardson was unable to beat Niemi with a great opportunity, the Sharks were able to turn a great break into the game-winning goal for Pavelski. For San Jose, getting a win was almost necessary for the sanity of the fans and for the team and they came up big and Pavelski proved to be their most clutch guy once again.
For the Kings, they’ve got nothing to be down about. They were resilient, they played tough, and they very nearly pulled off a big win on the road. If they come back out with that sort of game in Game 2 they’ll stand a great chance of winning again.
The one bad side of the game came in the first period when L.A.’s Jarret Stoll hit Sharks defenseman Ian White from behind, smashing his head against the edge of the dasher. White left the game with an apparent head injury and did not return. The league is looking into the hit and the Kings might be shorthanded if he faces punishment for the hit. If White is out of the lineup for San Jose, their blue line corps becomes instantly thinner. White’s status is worth keeping an eye on.