“Hits and Misses” for Kings at Sharks Game 5 WCQF 4/23/11

Result:  Kings 3, SHARKS 1  {Sharks lead series 3-2}

San Jose Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi eyes the puck after a save by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

HITS

Patrick Marleau – Marleau scored his second goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 47th of his career, at 5:43 of the second period to get the Sharks on the scoreboard and cut the Kings deficit to 3-1.  The goal came as the result of a takeaway by Sharks captain Joe Thornton on Kings defenseman Drew Doughty inside the Kings zone.  With the puck on his stick behind the Kings net, Thornton passed the puck down the lower side board to Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin, who jumped in on the play.  From the lower side board, just outside the far edge of the lower face-off circle, Wallin shot the puck on net as Marleau and Sharks forward Jamal Mayers crashed the net.  Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made the initial save but Marleau, who got inside position on Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, was able to get his stick on the loose puck and poke the puck pass Quick’s right pad for the lone Sharks goal of the night.

Antero Niittymaki – Making his second relief appearance of the series for Sharks starting goalie Antti Niemi, who was pulled after allowing three Kings goals on only four shots {more later in misses}, Niittymaki was once again solid in net, stopping all 18 Kings shots he faced, including a jaw-dropping glove save from his backside on Doughty just 1:19 into the third period.  With Niemi struggling and Niittymaki being solid in his two relief appearances, 29-out-of-30 shots saved, one has to wonder if Sharks coach Todd McLellan considers starting Niittymaki in game 6 Monday night in Los Angeles.

Discipline – The Sharks did an outstanding job of playing disciplined and were only called for one penalty all came, which was a “cross-checking” penalty to Sharks forward Ryane Clowe at 15:03 of the third period.

Marc Edouard Vlasic – Vlasic had a team high four blocked shots tonight.

Jamal Mayers – Mayers had a game high five hits tonight.

Sharks Team – With the exception of the 5:06 stretch in the first period that saw the Kings score three goals on three Sharks turnovers {more later in misses}, one couldn’t find much fault with the Sharks game or effort as a whole.  Unlike game 2 where the Sharks packed it in after going down 3-0, the Sharks tonight continued to play their game once down 3-0 and took it to the Kings all night, out-shooting them 52-22 for the game {89-41 when factoring in both blocked and missed shots}.  Unfortunately for the Sharks, Quick was simply outstanding in net for the Kings, making 51 saves on 52 shots, and WAS the reason why the Kings extended the series to a sixth game.

MISSES

Turnovers – Simply put, the Sharks beat themselves tonight with those three crucial turnovers, two of which were in their own zone, in that 5:06 stretch of the first period.  The first Kings goal, scored by forward Wayne Simmonds at 3:36 of the period, was the result of a giveaway by Niemi, who should have let Vlasic play the puck.  Instead, Niemi cut the puck off and shot it right to Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi on the high side board, who got the puck down to Kings forward Kyle Clifford for a blast from the point that was tipped in front by Simmonds for the goal.  The second Kings goal, scored by Clifford at 7:14 of the period was the result of a turnover in the neutral zone by Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, who lost the puck to Simmonds.  Simmonds skated into the Sharks zone 2-on-1 with Clifford as Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray was the only Sharks player back.  Simmonds shot on net was stopped by Niemi but no one on the Sharks skated back to take Clifford out of the play and as a result, Clifford had a wide open net to shoot the puck into for the goal.  The third Kings goal, scored by forward Dustin Penner at 8:42 of the period, came as the result of a failed clear attempt by Wallin, whose clear attempt from the high corner hit a linesman’s skate and bounced right to Penner in the slot and with the puck on his stick, Penner fired a shot on net that beat Niemi glove side for the goal.

Antti Niemi – After stopping 35-out-of-38 shots on net in game 4 in an outstanding performance, Niemi allowed three goals on only four shots for a save percentage of 0.25 and was pulled after the Penner goal in favor of Niittymaki.  To be fair, Niemi did stop the initial shot on the 2-on-1 breakaway, his only save of the game, and had another Sharks player skated back to help Murray out, the Kings would not have scored on that sequence.  With that said, Niemi knows better and should have let Vlasic play the puck on the end board instead of cutting it off because it was Niemi’s giveaway that led to Simmonds’ goal.  As for the Penner goal that chased Niemi out of the game, Penner would have never got that opportunity had Wallin successfully cleared the puck out of the zone and Niemi should have made that glove save.  Again, the million dollar question if your Sharks coach Todd McLellan is….do you start Niittymaki, whose been solid in his two relief appearances, in net for game 6 in Los Angeles Monday night or do you continue to ride the horse who brought you to the dance and proved how mentally tough he is with the bounce back performance he had in game 4 after a horrible game 3?

Power Play – Hockey is a game of opportunities and the Sharks certainly had those opportunities throughout the game tonight via their four Power Play chances.  Unfortunately, the Sharks went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and are now 0-for-11 at home in the series and 2-for-19 overall!

Sharks Team – Everyone in the hockey realm knows that the clinching fourth game of a series is the hardest to win and the Sharks knew since game 4 ended Thursday night in Los Angeles that they were going to play a desperate Kings team at home.  How did the Sharks respond?  By not playing with their brains, which was evident by their crucial mental mistakes that led to turnovers and goals for the Kings during that 5:03 stretch of the first period.  The Sharks had a golden opportunity tonight to wrap up the series on home ice and get some rest with the Detroit Red Wings before the start of the second round.  Instead, the Sharks foolishly opened Pandora’s Box and have given the Kings a glimmer of hope in the series, something that could very dangerous if the Sharks don’t play a full 60 minutes of hockey in game 6 Monday night.

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About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on April 23, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. What a miserable start. They seriously need to play with their heads at the start of the game. The Sharks can get away with a couple of bad games against the Kings, but they can’t keep doing this in later rounds. Without those early turnovers, this becomes a close game. Quick had another great game, so the Kings may have won it anyways on his effort alone. And why the heck are the Sharks playing better on the road than they do at home??

  2. Spot on report of the game, unfortunately. The only thing I didn’t see here was that the Sharks had a couple of amazing opportunities in the first 5 minutes too & while not playing smart didn’t take shots or at the right time! Murray was amazing the whole game, big hits & a couple of hard shots on net too.

  3. I’ve read that the stadiums do “white” outs because a “black out” would make it harder for the goalie to see the puck….do you think that wearing the all black unis is making it harder for Niemi to see the puck??? (I guess that would be the same for the opposing goalie and Nitty, too, and it didn’t seem to affect them, so that must not be a factor…and a lot of teams are all black…Dallas, Aneheim, Pittsburg, Kings…..)

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