Hockeywood’s Stanley Cup sequel is already halfway in the can. Can you handle more icing on the cake?
For as much as the earth shook in L.A. after the Kings captured their first National Hockey League championship in 45 years last summer by coming out of nowhere, the follow-up as one of the favorites has been nearly as much of a Richter scale rumbler, verified by Tuesday night’s 2-1 nail-biter over the San Jose Sharks to advance to the Western Conference finals. Continue reading “Halfway to the sequel … Can you handle it?” »
SECOND PERIOD: KINGS 2, SHARKS 0
Justin Williams, who hadn’t scored in the last eight playoff games for the Kings, put in two less than three minutes apart to cause a huge momentum swing. The first, on a power play, was jammed in from behind the net against the Sharks Antti Niemi after a broken-stick shot by Slava Voynov went wide 4:11 into the period. Williams’ second goal, a slap shot from the left side, came after a crisp drop pass from Voynov to Anze Kopitar who found Williams alone. Williams nearly scored a third goal but was denied minutes later by Niemi deep in the crease. Williams became the first NHL player in history to score a goal in the first four Game 7 situations he’s been in. How much did that fire up the Staples Center crowd? Almost as much as a blonde who showed up on the “Kiss Cam” and smooched nearly everyone within her reach. The Kings outshot the Sharks, 11-7, in the period and hold a 14-12 edge overall.
NBC Sports Network studio analyst Keith Jones predicted this Game 7 would end with the Sharks winning 1-0 in quadruple overtime. They’re on their way. Both teams had good opportunities in the offensive zone, but in a frenetic pace, neither could score as the game with a 6:15 p.m. start had plenty of empty seats from fans fighting to get in from traffic (although David Beckham and Tom Cruise didn’t have any problems finding their spots). The Sharks had the first penalty for the first time in the series – Joe Thornton’s high sticking against Mike Richards – but it was negated 21 seconds later when the Kings’ Jeff Carter high-sticked Joe Pavelski, for a brief 4-on-4 situation. The Sharks had the slight edge in the miniscule amount of shots, 5-3, but the Kings didn’t have an attempt for nearly the final 15 minutes of the period. The Kings’ edge was on hits, leading 20-12.
KINGS 1, SHARKS 0
Anze Kopitar’s rebound goal with 1:52 left in the period finally broke the scoreless game where the Kings continued to dominate, but failed to push anything across. Kyle Clifford and Rob Scuderi were given the assists in a scramble that saw Sharks goalie Antti Niemi lose his stick, then get handed one by a teammate just as Kopitar put it in. It was Kopitar’s first goal of the series and second in 11 playoff games – this for someone with 20 points in 20 playoff games last year. The Sharks went nearly 15 minutes without a shot spanning the first to second period. A Kyle Clifford penalty gave the Sharks another prime scoring opportunity but to no avail. The Kings have the shot advantage, 18-11 and will start the third period on the power play thanks to a TJ Galiardi crosscheck penalty on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. The Kings also have more than twice as many hits recorded than the Sharks, 39-18.
KINGS 0, SHARKS 0
The Kings’ defenseman set the tone early and played a key factor in keeping the puck away from Jonathan Quick and crashing the net on Antti Niemi, keeping the pressure on the Sharks zone. Jeff Carter’s missed open net was about the best scoring chance the Kings had all period. Carter also drew the period’s only penalty due to a check after a whistle blew that he apparently did not hear. The Kings outshot the Sharks, 9-6, and won on the hits, 24-12. And a shot of Tom Cruise on the scoreboard video got almost no reaction.