SAN JOSE - The San Jose Sharks were down 2-0 and looking for a spark when the second period began in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings.
The fourth line of center Andrew Desjardins and forwards Raffi Torres and Mike Brown lit the match that ignited a seven-goal explosion and a 7-2 victory for the Sharks on Sunday night.
Brown scored the first playoff goal of his career at 4:25 of the second period, and Torres scored less than five minutes later as the Sharks pulled even. Desjardins assisted on each goal.
"It's going to take all 20 guys that suit up and we realize that," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Where we want to go, everybody's got to be a leader throughout these playoffs. Tonight, their line just played great and won us the game."
When Brown, Torres and Desjardins weren't scoring goals and earning assists, they were delivering hits and generating energy at SAP Center.
"Every time we step on the ice that's our role is to kind of get that momentum and to bring the physicality into the game," Brown said. "Regardless if we're up or down, we're still going to play the same way. All three of us know what we need to do and what kind of game we need to play. That's what we're doing.
"I say any time the fourth line contributes with goals it's always a bonus. For us to put in a few here, it's great for the team, It's great for the guys to kind of know they have that depth in the fourth line that we can contribute."
Brown cut the Kings' lead to 2-1, hammering a one-timer past L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick. Desjardins and Torres teamed up to force a turnover below the Kings' net on the forecheck. Desjardins moved the puck to the lower right circle and sent a pass to Brown in the high slot. After Brown scored, the unusually quiet Shark Tank erupted with chants of "Beat LA!, Beat LA!"
"They got us going," Sharks forward Logan Couture said. "We were down 2-0 and they go out and score two goals. They generate a lot of energy in the building, a lot of energy on our bench. You can tell when they're out there they are going to forecheck hard. If I were a D-man I'd be scared of those guys bearing down on me all the time. They've done a great job in this series."
The Sharks' fourth line struck again at 9:04 of the second when Desjardins dropped a pass to a trailing Torres in the right circle and Torres ripped a shot past Quick to the far side. The Sharks' fourth line had been hemmed in their own zone for a long shift, but when they finally got control of the puck they still had enough energy to make a strong push the other way.
"That was pretty much all [Torres]," Desjardins said. "He had a little bit of poise with the puck there to give it to me in the middle instead of dumping it. He made a great call and that's why I gave it to him because he was calling for the puck. ... A lot of times at the end of a shift you're dumping and getting off the ice, but it's one of those things we had an odd man rush and just took advantage of it."
Brown played his typical high-octane, physical game, delivering a game-high eight hits. In Game 1 he sent Kings defenseman Slava Voynov flying into Quick. He knocked them both over like bowling pins and later joked, "A strike's better than a spare." This time he sent Tyler Toffoli to the ice, and Toffoli slid into Quick, cutting the goaltender's legs out from under him for another strike.
"I obviously want to get in and kind of rattle him, but it was nothing intentional," Brown said.
The agitating trio of Torres, Brown and Desjardins clearly appeared to irritate the Kings, especially late in the game. At one point Kings defenseman Matt Greene drew four minutes for roughing after Torres came to a stop in Quick's crease. Torres got two minutes, a bloody cut above an eye then chants of "Raf-fi! Raf-fi" from Sharks fans.
"It's nice," said Torres, who also scored a goal in the Sharks' 6-3 win in Game 1. "I don't know what to say. It's kind of weird."
Last year Torres was suspended for a shoulder-to-head hit on Kings center Jarret Stoll in Game 1 of the Kings' victory in a second-round series that lasted seven games. Torres never got back on the ice, and he missed most of this season with injuries.
"Last year was tough," Torres said. "I felt like I was in pretty good shape last year coming into the team. I was excited. I wanted to see what would happen. That's in the past now. I just look at the upcoming games and what I can do now to contribute."
As far as the Sharks are concerned, more of the same would be nice from Torres and his linemates.
"I think the spark came from that fourth line," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. "Brownie's goal was great, Raf's was awesome. That's what got us going. It was 'All right, it's time.' We hadn't got the start we wanted. Had a few chances, but didn't play in our end the way we wanted to. Once those guys started forechecking and scored those goals, we played pretty well."
Author: Eric Gilmore | NHL.com Correspondent