After dropping both games on home ice to start the series, the LA Kings squeaked out a 2-1 victory in overtime of Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks. The Kings leaned on a stellar penalty kill and goaltending out of Jonathan Quick, before Tanner Pearson netted the eventual winner in extra time.
Wednesday night saw the Kings have the chance to tie the series at 2 before heading home for Game 5.
Knowing the importance of Wednesday’s game, both teams came ready to play, as a fast-paced opening 20 minutes saw tremendous back-and-forth action, though neither team was able to fin the back of the net.
In the second, San Jose took full control of the game, including winning the pivotal special teams battle. While the Kings were able to stifle the Sharks powerplay in Game 3, Wednesday’s game was rough for LA’s penalty kill.
On their first man-advantage of the evening, Norris-contending defenseman Brent Burns took a cross-ice pass from Joel Ward and one-timed it past Jonathan Quick. The Sharks’ run their man-advantages through Burns, so the fact that he was left uncovered is rather troubling for the Kings.
Midway through the frame, the Sharks pushed their lead to 2-0 with yet another powerplay goal. With the puck below the goal line, Joe Thornton was able to find Joe Pavelski alone in the slot, where he snapped one past Quick. Once again, a failed assignment cost the Kings, as Jeff Carter failed to pick up Pavelski before he could score his fourth goal of the series.
San Jose managed to add yet another powerplay goal early in the third. After Jamie McBain went off for a high-stick, Patrick Marleau found a loose puck in the slot and fired it past quick.
The Kings quickly got one back, as Trevor Lewis redirected a Luke Schenn shot to make it a 3-1 game. Schenn’s point shot beat Martin Jones as Lewis battled with a Sharks’ defender in front of the net. The former Kings’ netminder was rather unhappy with the goal, as he felt he was interfered with by Lewis. San Jose challenged the goal, but it was upheld as a good goal.
Schenn, who earlier in the game made a terrific play breaking up an odd-man rush, once again made his impact felt, as he added his second point of the game, bringing the Kings within one. His shot from the center of the point cleanly beat a screened Jones, who had Dwight King firmly planted in front of him as Schenn wristed his shot on net.
Ultimately, the Kings’ comeback bid fell short, as the Sharks’ defense tightened up and was able to close out the game by a final score of 3-2. The Sharks now hold a commanding 3-1 lead in the series as it shifts back down to LA.
The Kings find themselves in familiar territory. During their 2014 run to eventually winning the Stanley Cup, the Kings fell behind 3-0 against the Sharks before coming back and taking the final four games. Now, the Kings find themselves in an only slightly better 3-1 hole, as they look to make history repeat itself in an attempt to once again comeback versus the Sharks.
“The simplest thing is that it’s not over until the team gets four wins. And that’s the case again,” said King when asked about what lessons the team can draw upon from said 2014 comeback.
Head coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t quite see a connection from two years ago.
“We’re not down 3-0, and they’re not the same team,” Sutter said after Game 4.
If the Kings want any chance at running the board against the Sharks, it starts by winning the special teams battle, something they failed at in Game 4. The Sharks will have three cracks at closing out the series, starting with Game 5 on Friday night.