The San Jose Sharks have done it. They have eliminated the L.A. Kings.
The events of the past provided a compelling storyline heading into this series. The Sharks had the Kings on the ropes in 2014, up 3-0 in the series, before the Kings marched all the way back to win in seven games. Even Drew Doughty couldn’t resist referencing it following his team’s only win of this round.
The Sharks have exorcised whatever demons they might’ve had brought on by their collapse two years ago against their California rivals, doing so with a 6-3 road victory in Game 5 and a 4-1 series win.
“Throughout the last couple of years, things have been said by players on that team that to me, personally, I take it as disrespectful,” said Sharks forward Logan Couture, as per Associated Press.
“So it was nice to stick it back to them and beat them in this series. Even this series, someone was saying on their team that they had us right where they wanted us. I wonder if they’ve got us where they want us right now? So it was nice to beat them.”
On Friday, the Sharks jumped out to a three-goal lead and could’ve made it four but Patrick Marleau flubbed his attempt on a penalty shot.
Moments later, the Kings once again started the comeback attempt. It began with an Anze Kopitar goal and ended with Kris Versteeg tying it with just over three minutes remaining in the second period.
The Sharks didn’t crumble. Instead, they took back the lead for good in the third period. Joonas Donskoi, a force throughout this series, powered his way around Doughty, then buried the pass from Brent Burns. That turned out to be the winner.
Then, the dagger. Joe Pavelski scored his fifth goal of the series, sliding a puck through the legs of Jonathan Quick on a shot the Kings goalie should’ve stopped.
In the end, San Jose’s best players were better. Pavelski had five goals, Burns had three assists in Game 5 and has six helpers and eight points in these playoffs. Goalie Martin Jones outplayed his former teammate Quick.
As for the Kings, their blue line was stretched thin with the injury to Alec Martinez early in the series. And could this be the final game for 36-year-old Vincent Lecavalier? It was reported after the Kings acquired him from Philadelphia that Lecavalier would retire at the end of this season.