The San Jose Sharks were feeling the same frustration Tuesday night experienced by the St. Louis Blues during the latter's final four games of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
No matter what the Sharks did in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Los Angeles Kings, they could not solve 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick. The Kings goaltender stopped all 35 shots he faced, including 16 in the third period, to lead Los Angeles to a 2-0 win at Staples Center.
After dropping the first two games of the postseason, the Kings have won five in a row. Much of that is due to the play of their goaltender, who lowered his goals-against average to 1.36 while raising his save percentage to .953.
"He's in a zone right now. He's playing great," Sharks forward Logan Couture said Wednesday. "He's seeing everything, he's compact with the puck. It's hitting him and it's not coming off him. We've got to find a way. The St. Louis series, they were saying the same things that I'm saying right now. We've got to find a way to score."
Quick was the Kings' best penalty killer in Game 1, which saw the Sharks go 0-for-3 with the man advantage. Indeed, the Sharks know what they have do should they be awarded a power play Thursday.
"We'll get some more traffic in front of him," captain Joe Thornton said. "He's a world-class goalie. He played well in Game 1, but just keep firing pucks in and hopefully a couple can squeak by him.
"He's aggressive … he's a big goalie. He plays the angles good. I think his D helps him out with getting rid of rebounds, but he's solid and you've got to work for your goals against him."
Trailing 2-0 after 40 minutes, San Jose certainly outworked the defending Stanley Cup champs in the third period of Game 1, as they outshot Los Angeles 16-4. But the Sharks were unable to solve Quick and now must find a way to get a split on the road to start this best-of-7 series, which will shift to San Jose on Saturday.
If the Sharks are going to do that, they'll have to capitalize on their chances when they get them, something the Blues were unable to do after Game 2 in the first round.
"I'm going to go back to the St. Louis series and what I watched and what I heard after … there were some key people that had pucks on their tape in that series and had the goaltender out and just didn't finish," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We had some key people with pucks on their tape [Tuesday] night. You have to give Jonathan Quick a lot of credit, but I'd like to think we'll have a little more poise in those situations and hit our spot a little bit better."
Sharks center Joe Pavelski, one of the stars of the opening round with four goals and four assists in a sweep of the Vancouver Canucks, pointed to Quick's gaffe behind the net that led to Alexander Steen's overtime goal for St. Louis as a reason to believe San Jose can find ways to beat the L.A. netminder.
"He's been on a roll," Pavelski said of Quick. "He's been playing great. We've got to keep shooting, keep getting pucks there. That's the only way they're going to go in. You never know when he's going to give you one too. You've seen it in the St. Louis series. He has given up some goals and given up some chances just from handling the puck in different situations, so we've got to keep going there hard and bounces are going to come.
"We had some good looks and some great chances. One or two of those can go in just as easy. We didn't give up much, but their chances, they capitalized on and they got the win. We have to play the same offensive style we had and compete. There's a few areas we can be a little faster."