“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Kings Game 4 WCQF 4/21/11
Ryane Clowe – For the second consecutive game, Clowe had himself a two goal night, scoring his third and fourth goals of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 15th and 16th of this career. Clowe’s first goal of the game came at 3:58 of the second period during 4-on-4 play to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Entering the Kings zone 2-on-1 with line mate Joe Pavelski, Clowe left a drop pass in the slot for Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who quickly passed the puck back to Clowe for a one-timer opportunity. The puck was out of Clowe’s reach and Clowe had to play the puck off the end-board. With the puck on his stick at the goal-line near the high corner, Clowe centered the puck in front of the Kings net that deflected off the stick of Kings forward Alec Martinez and into the Kings net for the goal. Clowe’s second goal of the game came with the Sharks on the Power Play at 9:28 of the second period to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. With Kings defenseman Matt Greene serving a “high sticking” double minor penalty and puck possession inside the Kings zone, Sharks defenseman Ian White, who was at the blue line, fired a pass to Sharks forward Logan Couture in the slot. With the puck on his stick, Couture fired a shot on net that was stopped by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. However, Quick left a rebound and Clowe, who was battling in front of the net with Kings defender Jack Johnson, was able to get his stick on the puck and poke it into the net for the goal.
Jason Demers – Demers scored his first goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, second of his career, at 5:12 of the second period to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. The goal came just 74 seconds after Clowe’s first goal of the game and was also scored during 4-on-4 play. With the puck on his stick on the high side board inside the Kings zone, Sharks forward Dany Heatley passed the puck down to Couture in the slot, whose initial shot on net was blocked by Martinez. Couture was able to get the puck back on his stick and fired a backhand pass down to Demers, who had got himself to the side of the goalie crease by reading the play from the blue line, and Demers shot the puck into the open net for the goal. Quick even threw his stick out at Couture in an attempt to breakup the pass to Demers.
Joe Thornton – The Sharks captain scored his first goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 16th of his career, at 2:28 of the third period to give the Sharks a 4-2 lead. The goal, which held up as the game-winning goal, came as the result of Sharks forward Kyle Wellwood winning the race to the puck in the Kings zone after a dump in by the Sharks. From behind the Kings net, Wellwood was able to hold off Greene and passed the puck out to line mate Torrey Mitchell, whose shot on net from the side went wide and back to Wellwood behind the net. With the puck back on his stick, Wellwood passed the puck out in front to a cutting Thornton, who was all alone in front of Quick as no one on the Kings picked him up, and Thornton put the puck into the net for the goal.
Joe Pavelski – Pavelski scored his third goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 18th of his career, at 3:22 of the third period to give the Sharks a 5-2 lead. The goal, which was scored just 54 seconds after Thornton’s goal, came as the result of a face-off inside the Kings zone, which Pavelski won. After winning the face-off, Pavelski got himself to the front of the Kings net while Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle fired a shot on net from the blue line. As the puck was heading towards the net, Pavelski, who was in the slot, was able to get his stick on on the puck and redirect it into the net for the goal.
Torrey Mitchell – Mitchell scored his first goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, second of his career, at 11:42 of the third period to give the Sharks a 6-2 lead. The goal came as the result of Wellwood, who carried the puck into the Kings zone, surprising everybody on the ice by actually shooting the puck from in the slot. The puck deflected off a Kings players skate and found its way to the stick of Mitchell, who was standing at the side of the goalie crease. With the puck on his stick, Mitchell fired the puck into the open net for the goal.
Marc Edouard Vlasic – In addition to his one assist tonight, Vlasic had a solid all-around game, highlighted by his two key defensive plays in the first period. With the Kings on the Power Play early in the first period, Vlasic’s quick thinking saved a sure fire goal for the Kings as he batted the puck out of mid-air and away from the goalie crease after Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a tough save. Vlasic’s second heads up play came in the final seconds of the first period after Mitchell gave the puck away to the Kings in the neutral zone. The Kings attempted to break into the Sharks zone 2-on-1 but Vlasic held his ground and shut the rush attempt down, causing the Kings to go offsides.
Antti Niemi – After being pulled just 44 seconds into the second period of game 3 after giving up four goals on 10 shots, Niemi proved how mentally tough he is by having an outstanding bounce back game in stopping 35-out-of-38 shots and came up huge for the Sharks at crucial moments in the game, specifically, the final 2:59 of the game when the Kings had a 5-on-3 Power Play advantage that could have been disastrous for the Sharks.
Ian White – For the second consecutive game, White had a two point night by registering two assists and now has five assists in the series.
Kyle Wellwood/Logan Couture – Wellwood and Couture both had a two point night as each had two assists.
Patrick Marleau – Marleau had a team high four hits tonight.
Penalty Killers – After their rough start in game 2 where they allowed two Kings Power Play goals on the Kings first two Power Play opportunities of the game, the Sharks Penalty Killers have successfully killed off the Kings last 15 Power Play opportunities after going a perfect 7-for-7 tonight.
Sharks Team – Just like Niemi, the Sharks proved just how mentally tough they were tonight by not falling apart when the Kings attempted to do to the Sharks what the Sharks did to them in game 3. After building a 3-0 lead in the first half of the second period, the Sharks got sloppy with their play and the Kings capitalized those mistakes by scoring two goals 89 seconds apart. The Sharks though did not break and responded by scoring two huge goals in the first 202 seconds of the third period to seal the win. With the victory, the Sharks now have a 3-1 series lead and can close the series out Saturday night back home in San Jose. However, the fourth game of a series is always the hardest to win and the Sharks have to know that the Kings, who have their backs against the walls, are going to come out full throttle. If the Sharks need anymore motivation to close the series out Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings, a possible second round playoff opponent, closed their series out Wednesday night when they swept the Phoenix Coyotes.
Referees – Can someone please explain to me how on God’s green earth referee Dennis LaRue could watch Kings defenseman Drew Doughty drill Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi from behind and not call a “cross checking” penalty when the play happened just two feet in front of him? Was it because the Sharks were already on a Power Play and the Kings had just been called for back-to-back penalties? Does Setoguchi have to be injured on the play to get a call? There is no excuse, and I do mean NO EXCUSE, for LaRue or any NHL official to swallow their whistle during that scenario. Sadly, that’s exactly what LaRue and Kelly Sutherland did late in the game when Kings forward Michal Handzus did the exact same thing to another Sharks player late in the third period when the Kings had their 5-on-3 Power Play advantage. Enough already of this “pick-and-choose” officiating!
Niclas Wallin – I honestly have no clue what Wallin was thinking when he foolish backhanded the puck from the blue line of his own zone into the neutral zone near the Kings bench. Wallin, who was not pressured and had time to make the right play, never even looked to where he was putting the puck and as a result, the Kings were able to quickly enter the Sharks zone and got on the scoreboard at 11:00 of the second period as Kings forward Brad Richardson scored on a wrap around shot after carrying the puck behind the Sharks net.
Jamal Mayers – Just like Wallin, Mayers had a sloppy turnover in the neutral zone, which led to a Kings goal that cut the Sharks lead to 3-2. Kings forward Justin Williams carried the puck into the Sharks zone on a 2-on-2 rush with line mate Ryan Smyth and threw the puck towards the net. Vlasic, who had excellent position, took Smyth out of the play but unfortunately for the Sharks, the puck deflected off of Vlasic’s stick and into the net for a Kings goal. The goal came just 82 seconds after Richardson’s goal.
Discipline – The first 57 minutes of the game, the Sharks executed their gameplan to tee and reaped the benefits by earning a 6-3 lead. However, the Sharks decided to give all their fans cardiac arrest by taking several undisciplined penalties in the game’s final three-and-a-half minutes, giving the Kings a 5-on-3 Power Play advantage that could have been disastrous for the Sharks. It all started when Heatley took a bad “tripping” penalty at 16:46, followed by Boyle’s “cross checking” penalty and Scott Nichol‘s 10 minute game misconduct at 17:01. Luckily for the Sharks and their fans, Niemi and the Sharks Penalty Killers rose to the occasion and successfully killed off the Kings two man Power Play advantage to seal the 6-3 win.