In Game 3 the Sharks had to fight from behind. In Game 4 they took the lead with three unanswered second period goals and never relinquished it, en route to a 6-3 victory that gave them a 3-1 series lead.
“We got a 3-0 lead in the second which was great,” Clowe said. “They responded, but we still had the lead.”
The Sharks have now scored 12 goals in the last two games and have been offensively dominant.
“We’re working hard,” Captain Joe Thornton
said. “We’ve got three good lines that can score and match with anybody and right now they are.”
In addition to the offensive explosion, San Jose displayed the all-around game that propelled them to the second seed in the Western Conference.
“This was more of the complete game that we can play,” Ryane Clowe
said. “They talked a lot about us wanting to get in a track meet, but that’s not really our game either. We want to play below the goal line and grind them down, just like they do. We showed that sometimes you have to stay patient and the goals will come.”
There was a point in the second period where Scott Nichol and Drew Doughty were given matching minors and during the four-on-four play, San Jose twice lit the lamp. Kings Head Coach Terry Murray said Doughty being out played a huge role in the outcome.
“They scored two goals on a four-on-four, but up to that point it was a pretty good game,” Murray said. “We killed off a five-on-three; we killed off a double minor, that’s a pretty good game. Give Nichol credit, he’s the reason that they won tonight.”
McLellan says the Sharks have simply taken advantage of open ice when it’s presented to them.
“We’ve been lucky enough to score three four-on-four goals this series, it opens the ice up a little bit,” McLellan said. “Doughty is a very good player and Scotty Nichol is a very important player for us. It made some space available to us and we took advantage of it.”
San Jose had bolted to the 3-0 lead, but the Kings responded with two goals of their own to pull within one at the intermission. The Sharks wasted little time in opening the lead again with two quick tallies by Thornton and Joe Pavelski
to start the third.
“I don’t know what they feel over there, but I know what we have in here,” Clowe said. “We can count the playoff games and experience we have. Our start in the third showed our leadership and our composure. You don’t want to get into one of those games where you’re flipping the puck out and they’re coming. It’s the kiss of death. We took it too them early (in the third) and got a couple of goals.Antti Niemi
said the two early goals to start the third were a difference maker.
“We made it really hard for their goalie,” Niemi said. “It was huge. It gave us a little bit of room to breathe.”
McLellan noted earlier in the day there was no doubting that Niemi would bounce back and when the Kings pressed, he answered the bell.
Niemi and the penalty killers prevented the Kings from scoring a power play goal, including twice down two men.
“He’s responded all year and been a horse,” Clowe said. “That big save at the right time. He did it in the first when they have a power play. He did it in the second when we came down and scored. He’s a focused guy.”
“Antti has done that all year,” McLellan said. “He’s human and he’ll have his good days and his bad days, but the thing about him is he’s determined to come back with a real good one. I thought he was exceptional in the second half of the game.”
The skaters were determined to do their part for the last line of defense in Game 4.
“We did a good job of blocking shots for him,” Boyle said. “He was there for us when he needed to be. I never worried about (him). He looked fresh at the morning skate and it never even crossed my mind that he would have any problems getting back to where he was.”
Niemi said he simply put the past behind him.
“It was huge to get those (stops),” Niemi said about preventing any early tallies. “It took a while to get those, but once I got a few, it started to be easier.”
posted two goals and is now tied for second in the NHL with seven post season points and as well as being tied for second with four playoff goals.
“He’s built for the playoffs,” Boyle said. “If you could design a player, he’s pretty much the type of player you want in the playoffs. He’s a big strong guy that can score and play physical. He’s good in the D-zone and protects the puck. He wears the other team’s defensemen down so he’s been great for us.”
The Sharks had goals from all three lines on the night, once again showing how gifted their forwards rotation is.
“We’re a tough team to stop when three lines are forechecking,” Clowe said.
WITH THE KISS
When Thornton scored his goal, he blew a kiss toward the stands where a couple of Sharks fans were sitting.
“It’s a good night,” Thornton said.
3 IN 4
The Sharks scored three times on just four third period shots.
KINGS HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY:
“I really liked our competition to make it a 3-2 game. And then whatever happened in the third with giveaways, turnovers, lost face offs - that’s sometimes a hard thing to explain.”
“There was no consideration to pulling Quick. Sometimes a goalie has to play through it. It’s his game and he’s got to work his way through it. You look at the goals and they weren’t the goalie’s fault. Changing the goalie sends the wrong message to the team, everyone is in this together.”
“I thought our emotions were under control. I think the Sharks lost their composure at the end.”
KINGS DEFENSEMAN JACK JOHNSON
“Try to keep them from scoring six goals a game. They’ve scored 12 goals in two games. That’s embarrassing. We have to pack up, get to San Jose and go there to win a hockey game. Our backs are against a wall. They’re a tough team to play and right now they’re playing with a lot of confidence. But we should be a tough team to play against because there’s no tomorrow for us. If we lose it’s the season so we have to go there to win a hockey game and expect nothing else.”
“It’s terrible but in playoffs when a game’s over you start the next game with a clean slate. That’s just the way it is, win or lose, each game is a new game and a new beginning. There’s no momentum carried over because each game means so much. You start clean each game. We’re going to go there and try to win a game and come home and try to win another game and get this to game seven.”
“Stop them from scoring six goals a game. We’re not going to win a game if they score six goals a game, it’s the just the way it is. We’ve had success in scoring goals in the series fortunately but we’re not an offensive team we’re a defensive team and if we’re letting in that many goals we’re in a lot of trouble. We can’t let them score.”
“They’re a very good hockey club, they play very hard and very well defensively so we had to earn them. More importantly it’s two wins. They played obviously very well in game two. We had to straighten our game out a little bit...But we still have to improve, they’re going to come back and play very well. They’ve got a lot of pride and are a very good hockey club.”
“Poise and composure tonight, coming out for the third period, getting through the second period when they were coming back. That adds up a little bit and maybe that does give you a little bit of an advantage, but again, only if you use it.” JOE THORNTON
“They’re going to fight and they’re going to claw. The close out games are always the toughest so we have to really be ready and take this win and enjoy it for tonight but get back to work tomorrow.”
“We always want to get traffic in front of (Quick), you never know what can happen with traffic. But he’s an incredible goalie and we definitely have to work for our goals right now.”
Game 5 will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and it will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.