Quick Helps the Kings Get the First Bite on the Sharks
The words "Jonathan Quick" should have the remaining eight teams shaking in their skates. Quick made 35 saves in his franchise record sixth career playoff shutout as the Kings took Game 1 2-0 over the San Jose Sharks.
"This was his win pretty much," Mike Richards said.
The Sharks are a different can of worms than the St. Louis Blues were. They're faster and have potent scorers who can change the tide of games in an instant. Names like Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture. The four of them combined for 27 points in their four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
"These guys are faster and make more rush chances," captain Dustin Brown commented. "They hold on to pucks. It's not the chip-and-chase game like it was against St. Louis."
Knowing all of this it was a disappointing start through the first ten minutes. Jake Muzzin's interference call gave the Sharks an early power-play in the first period, and the Kings looked a half-step slow. It seemed like the team would have to rely on Quick to be a miracle worker while someone would have to find an instant of brilliance a la Dustin Penner in Game 6 of the last series.
"It seemed like we were slow coming up the ice," Richards said. "Johnny had to make some big saves for us and keep us in it. As the game went it we started getting a little better, but in the first period we looked like the sluggish team."
Richards did his part. In a faceoff in the Kings zone, Richards got the puck and entered the Sharks zone. As he dropped the puck for Slava Voynov, Richards tied up defenseman Matt Irwin allowing Voynov to skate freely. Voynov skated the puck to the right faceoff dot and blasted a shot past goaltender Antti Niemi with 12.9 seconds left in the first period.
"Especially after a period we didn't play very well, to come into the dressing room with the lead was a big benefit," Richards said. "I think it carried over into the second period where we played better."
Voynov and Richards were at it again with 7:30 left in the second.. This time Voynov's shot from the right point hit off of Richards' body and changed directions on Niemi giving the Kings the 2-0 lead.
After that is was all on Quick. He shut the door on the Sharks looking like his Conn Smythe Trophy winning form.
But Quick is not one to toot his own horn. You just hear how he frustrated the Sharks.
"Obviously Quick is a great goaltender," Pavelski said. "He sees it first and he usually stops it. We didn’t score tonight. He was good. He made the saves he had to. We have to find a way to score."
"You get 30+ shots, which is hard to do against this team, some way we’re going to have to find a way to beat them," Thornton said. "You try to get some shots and some rebounds, couple of good chances. He’s a great goalie we just have to work harder to get to him next game."
Then there was head coach Todd McClellan: "All the clichés, I can stand up here and use them all. But it’s about getting it done, when the night ends you have to have the job done. You can have as many good looks as you want, you can be in all alone, you have to find ways to finish and we have players that are very capable of doing that, we have players that are capable of scoring greasy, dirty, playoff style goals."
A moment of controversy from none other than the reformed Raffi Torres late in the second period. His shoulder hit on Jarret Stoll knocked Stoll out the game.
No updates on Stoll's health was provided.
As we started seeing in the last four games of the St. Louis series, Quick is looking an awful like the 2012 Quick. He has stopped 202 of 212 shots so far in the playoffs, a .953 save percentage. That can only bode trouble for the rest of the league while making the Staples Center faithful giddy at the possibilities ahead.