Penultimate Minute Comeback For Kings Was Ultimate
"It's not been a good day," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter opened his postgame press conference. He lost his reading glasses and paid $79 for a pair of reading glasses knowing that he could have gotten three for $20 from Costco.
I'm sure had the Kings not scored twice within 22 seconds in the 59th minute of regulation to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3, that would not have been his opener. But he now has a 2-0 series lead heading to San Jose, so he can do what he wants.
It was a game that Sutter really had to coach. With center Jarret Stoll out after a hit by Raffi Torres in Game 1, he fit Brad Richardson into the lineup for the first time since Game 1 of the St. Louis series. But to get the output of Stoll on the power play, Sutter became the mad scientist. "We used 14 guys, right," Sutter said.
I lost count, but that is not an exaggeration.
Things got even more flummoxed early in the third period when a shot by Dustin Brown from the left point took a detour to Anze Kopitar's mouth. We saw one line combination of Brown with Colin Fraser and Dwight King.
Of course being down two centers made things difficult. What was a 2-2 tie at the beginning of the third period became a 3-2 lead for San Jose when on a delayed penalty a shot by Brad Stuart from the top of the slot landed in the crease long enough for Marc-Edouard Vlasic to put it past Jonathan Quick with just over 11 minutes left.
A minute later came the return of Kopitar to the serenade of cheers by the standing-room only 18,527. But the results didn't just happen.
First there was a penalty on Stuart for tripping. Then there was a penalty on Vlasic for hitting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. And what followed. Well.
"It was huge," Trevor Lewis said about the penalties that allowed him to score the game winner. "Power play got it done in the end when we needed it the most."
It was a great comeback, but in order to have the comeback there has to be some bad play involved. One jarring statistic is with the absence of Stoll the Sharks won 68 percent of the faceoffs.
The motif in the locker room were the players acknowledging they did not play their best game.
"I think Quick has been awesome for us," Lewis said. "He's our MVP. He made some huge saves out there tonight, and we scored the goals at the right time."
No save was better than in the second period with the Sharks on the power play Tommy Wingels snapped off a shot from the slot that had all of the makings of the first San Jose goal of the series. But Quick stared it down and like a pufferfish expanded as much as he could to make sure the puck stayed out of the net.
The Kings still had the 2-0 lead, and it looked like the Shark would need the perfect plays in order to get anything through Quick.
They did. There was Patrick Marleau's goal in the next shift, which required precision passes across the ice in order to get through.
There was Stuart's goal that required a screen or two or three so Quick couldn't see the puck.
So Quick wasn't a miracle worker but his 28 saves were essential yet again for keeping the team in the game. Four of those shots came in the first minute that had the Kings on their heels. But the Kings had an antidote: Jeff Carter who blasted a shot from outside the right faceoff dot to give the Kings the 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
Drew Doughty gave the Kings the 2-0 lead early in the second period with his second goal of the playoffs, a power-play goal. The Kings normally quiet power play erupted for three goals in their six chances.
Yet again for the Sharks, they outplayed the Kings for most of the game yet come away with a loss. Sharks head coach Todd McClellan did look at the positives.
"We got three goals," he said. But they didn't win.
We'll see if the frustration has set in when Game 3 is played in San Jose on Saturday.