LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings waited 21 years to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs at home. The cushion they got in that first game might as well have been a bounce house.
Jonathan Quick demonstrated his Conn Smythe-winning form and Slava Voynov and Mike Richards continued their postseason prowess in a 2-0 win Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series at Staples Center.
The last time L.A. opened a series at home was 1992, during the Wayne Gretzky era.
L.A. needed Quick's sixth career playoff shutout because it was largely outplayed in the first and second periods. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped 18 of 20 shots in the loss.
Kings captain Dustin Brown summed up the feeling that they're not feeling overly satisfied with this one.
"Quickie was huge for us," Brown said. "Our PK was huge against their power play. There's areas we need to clean up, still."
The Kings, who faced a 2-0 series deficit in the quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues, have won five straight and 11 in a row at home, dating back to the regular season. Voynov recorded his first career multi-point game of playoffs and Richards upped his total to seven points in as many games.
Voynov, who had three points in 20 postseason games in 2012, has four through seven games. All three of his goals are game winners, and most have been seeing-eye shots from the back end.
"He got shots through," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "They're not going to give you much. They pound you and there's five guys low and you got to try to get pucks through to the net, and both of them were that ... that's how you score goals in the playoffs."
L.A., which did not enjoy a two-goal lead at any point in the opening round, got it midway through the second period after Richards redirected Voynov's shot for a 2-0 score. Quick did the rest, with 16 of his 35 saves in the third period. His 25th career playoff win is one shy of the franchise record set by Kelly Hrudey.
The interstate rivalry, the fourth all-California playoff series, was evident. Raffi Torres knocked out Jarret Stoll on a charging penalty in the second period. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi did not have an immediate update, and Sutter characteristically hissed when asked about Stoll.
"Well, we weren't resting him and he didn't come back," Sutter said.
Torres and San Jose coach Todd McLellan both said they didn't think it was a penalty. Torres said he didn't think the League would take a further look at it.
"To be honest, I didn't really think it was even going to be a penalty," Torres said. "They called it charging, but I don't feel launched myself. I took a step and a half and glided into him. Obviously, he was leaning over. I still feel like I got shoulder to his shoulder, and then it looked – because he was leaning over – that I came up a little high ... I hope he's all right."
Said McLellan: "Clean hit, not even a charging penalty in my opinion."
San Jose needed to continue its hot power play, but went 0-for-3. Quick stopped all six shots and has stopped 26 of 28 on the power play in the postseason. After he allowed four goals in his first two games, Quick has allowed six in his past five contests.
The Sharks gave a nod to Quick, but also thought they have to make it more difficult. Patrick Marleau said they need to make plays coming out of their zone, and that some of their dump-ins were getting to Quick. McLellan said he'd like better "maintenance of the puck" through the neutral zone.
"We have to produce and create more movement," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "We feel we can play with them. We felt we played a good game. After tonight, everyone in this room feels they are beatable. It's not going to be easy, obviously, they are Stanley Cup champs, a team that has learned how to win."
Voynov's shot from the right point hit Richards on its way into the left side of the goal at 12:30 of the second to make it 2-0. It was the first time that the Sharks, who trailed for all of 20:38 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks, faced such a deficit this postseason.
San Jose, outshot L.A., 16-4, in the third period, yet came up empty.
"All the clichés - I could stand up here and use them up at all," McLellan said. "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. We have to find ways to finish. We have players that are capable of doing that. We have players that are capable of scoring greasy, dirty, playoff goals ... it's going to have to come out in this series."
San Jose, coming off a week-long break, did a great job to take the home crowd out of it early and controlled most of the first period, only to give up a crushing goal with 12.5 seconds remaining. Richards grabbed a loose puck off a faceoff in L.A.'s zone and skated it across San Jose's blue line before he was bumped off it. Voynov collected it and fired a slap shot through heavy congestion and past Niemi for a 1-0 lead.
The Sharks held a 7-3 shot advantage through 10 minutes as the Kings leaned on Quick, who made three solid saves on San Jose's first power play.
Bracken Kearns made his NHL playoff debut in place of Adam Burish (upper body) on the fourth line. Kearns, 32, began his professional career in 2005 with the ECHL's Toledo Storm and entered Tuesday with six games of NHL experience.
|Jake Muzzin Interference against Joe Pavelski|
|Anze Kopitar Hooking against Brent Burns|
|Raffi Torres Charging against Jarret Stoll|
|Mike Richards Hooking against Scott Gomez|