In what was a magnificent performance from start to finish, the Kings staved off elimination for the second straight game downing San Jose 3-0 Saturday night at SAP Center, setting up a Game 6 Monday night in Los Angeles.
It was poise that put the Sharks on their heels, the Kings’ efforts coming from the entire roster, and in just about every aspect of the game.
Everybody was in synch.
The Kings’ forecheck was relentless throughout the night; they kept the Sharks at bay in the neutral zone, and were outstanding defensively, pressuring San Jose’s attack well before the blue-line.
For the Kings, it was their first playoff victory in San Jose since April 24, 2011, they snapped a five-game postseason losing streak at SAP Center with tonight’s win.
A feisty start saw the Kings register 18 first period shots, while shutting down San Jose’s opportunities, allowing just six shots to reach Jonathan Quick in the opening 20 minutes.
Tyler Toffoli opened the night’s scoring, registering his second goal in as many games, in large part to Tanner Pearson’s peripheral vision.
After Pearson rocketed past San Jose defenders to claim a loose puck just inside the Sharks’ zone, he eyed Tyler Toffoli, who was high and wide across the ice.
Pearson fed Toffoli on a dime, and Toffoli, with a quick pull and drag move to create space for a shot, lasered a snapper low to the left side past Antti Niemi to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 8:09 into the contest.
Less than five minutes later, Anze Kopitar added to the Kings’ lead, banging home a fat rebound after a quick give-and-go sequence with Dustin Brown.
After Kopitar returned the puck to Brown on the right-wing side, Brown shot low for Niemi’s pads as Kopitar crashed the middle, and Brown’s shot richet off Niemi and directly to Kopitar’s targeted destination on the play.
Kopitar, with ease, gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with 7:08 to play in the first period. It was his first goal of the playoffs, and he now has points (1G, 4A) in each of the five games played this series.
The Kings began the second period on the power play, and executed immediately.
Upon settling down in San Jose’s zone, Marian Gaborik chipped the puck low to the left corner to Jeff Carter, who then in one motion, spun and attempted a pass to the front of the Sharks’ net which redirected off San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart’s stick and past Antti Niemi to give the Kings a 3-0 lead a mere :22 seconds into the second period.
From then on, the Kings played smart, composed hockey, and maintained momentum and control through the remainder of the night.
Jonathan Quick, after struggling mightily in the early stages of this series, dropped a stalwart performance, fending away all 30 of San Jose’s shots for his eighth career postseason shutout.
Justin Williams, after scoring two goals in the Kings’ Game 4 win Thursday, led the team in shots Saturday with seven.
The series now shifts back to Los Angeles. Game 6 is slated for Monday night at STAPLES Center, the puck scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM PST.