No doubt about it, Monday night was a statement game by the San Jose Sharks as they responded to each Kings challenge in the 6-3 win. The victory pushed the Sharks to within four points of the Kings and first place in the Pacific Division.
“Yeah,” Scott Nichol said about whether it was a statement game. “They are the big dogs. They have been playing really well and they are the hottest team in the NHL. It was nice for us to come in and play our style and have a big home win.”
“It was huge,” Torrey Mitchell
said. “We talked about it before the game. It was a really big challenge for us because they are playing well and off to a really good start. I think we responded really well. Early in the season these types of games are important. We definitely feel pretty good about ourselves.”
San Jose’s coach felt much as his players did following the win.
“LA is obviously the measuring tool in our conference, maybe in the league,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “We competed very hard against them. I thought we played the game fast, especially in the second period. So, it just goes to show if we play the right way and execute properly, we have the ability to do it. I was asked this morning if we had the right pieces, and I think our players proved that they are the right pieces. It’s just a matter of getting it done on a nightly basis.”
The final score may say otherwise, but the game was close throughout and San Jose did what was necessary. That included staring down one of the NHL’s top penalty killing units.
“I thought our power play pretty much won us the game against the best penalty kill in the league,” Nichol said. “They kept inching back and then we would get a power play and score and get the two goal lead again. That was huge for us.”
It may have been the best 60 minute effort of the year.
“I think we had to, that is a pretty good team,” winning netminder Antero Niittymaki said. “Probably the best team so far in the west. Probably a good game for us to see where we are. We played really well.”
“Tonight was probably the best 60 minutes we’ve played out of the last four or five games here,” Mitchell said.
Twice the Sharks responded to a Kings tally within two minutes and that can break the spirit of a team trying to come from behind.
“It’s huge,” Niittymaki said. “We did a really good job of that tonight. When they scored we did.”
SPREAD THE WEALTH
The Sharks not only played a great 60 minutes, but every line chipped in on the scoreboard.
“That is a pretty good recipe for success when you spread it out through the lineup,” Nichol said. “Our line chipped in. We normally don’t chip in too often, but it was a big goal to make it 3-1. All the hard work and it was a good reward for our line.”
In the second period, an extremely unusual situation occurred and most in the building had never witnessed it. Ryan Smyth scored a goal, but there was no signal as the referee wasn’t sure of a tally. Thus, play proceeded and it would continue until the next stoppage in play, at which point the video goal judge would look at Smyth’s effort. However, the next stoppage of play was a goal by Torrey Mitchell
A grand celebration erupted by the fans as most did not have a great angle on the shot and did not have the luxury of the television replay. The replay clearly showed Smyth deserved a goal and, per NHL rules, any tally after that did not count and the clock went back to the time of the goal.
Mitchell knew what was going to happen from the moment he scored.
“His (Ryan Smyth’s) reaction was like it was a goal,” Mitchell said. “It was like let’s get a whistle and get this over with. Then I got the breakaway and I was like, I don’t get many breakaways so let’s bury this. I still had a celebration even though I thought it might not count. I was enjoying the moment.”
Still, Mitchell said the celebration went a little wilder than he wanted.
“Then I saw Demers come in and jump on me and I’m like do you know the rules kid,” Mitchell laughed. “What are you doing? Get off me man, it doesn’t count and he’s like, ‘Yeah!’ I was like all right, take it with a grain of salt and enjoy this.”
Niittymaki had no doubt Mitchell’s tally would come off the board.
“It was almost in the back of the net,” Niittymaki. “I kind of felt bad for Mitchy there. They were going to take it away.”
McLellan liked how the club reacted after having a goal removed from the scoreboard.
“I thought the turning point for us was the ability to overcome the 4-1, 3-2 change in the game,” McLellan said. “But, I think most of us knew or believed that goal was in, so right away our mindset was we’re prepared, let’s move on. It was important for us to recover.”
The Sharks brought out Arturs Irbe for the ceremonial faceoff prior to the game and he was received as if he just helped upset Detroit yesterday. Irbe will meet with fans Tuesday at the Sharks Store from Noon-2 and will then be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame later in the evening.
The Sharks completed their five game home stand by garnering nine of 10 points.
The Sharks played without Douglas Murray
on the night and those who helped fill the role were admirable in their performance.
“They (Wallin and Vlasic) both played maybe their best game together,” McLellan said. “They weren’t always on the ice together, but when they were they played well. It was nice to see. I thought Derek Joslin was put in a really tough situation for not having played since the exhibition season, playing against a team like that for his first game in two months.”
San Jose may not be without Murray for long though.
“He’s making the trip,” McLellan noted. “We think there is a good chance he can play on it. We’ll see how he is in the morning.”
With an assist in the third period, Dan Boyle
extended his point streak to five games (1+5=6).
CENTURY CLUBPatrick Marleau
scored a power play goal in the third period, his 100th career power play goal. He leads the San Jose franchise in that category.
13 different San Jose players picked up points.
KINGS HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY
“They beat us here tonight. They beat us in the transition game and our management of the puck from the red line to the top of the circle.”
“I lost count of the turnovers. You can’t do that against any team, and certainly can’t do it against probably the most talented team in the National Hockey League. They made us pay for it.”
“We lose the faceoff, they shoot the puck, and it’s in our net. There was no opportunity to even get organized on the penalty kill. They were smart. They won the faceoff and put the puck at the net with traffic.
San Jose will visit Colorado on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.