San Jose came out in Game 5 ready to close out the series and peppered Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with 19 shots in the first period. However, a hot L.A. goaltender mixed with mental errors by San Jose left the Sharks in a 3-0 hole after 20 minutes of play.
The loss of Game 5 on Saturday night was not a result of complacency or lack of effort though. The Sharks ended the evening with 52 shots on goal – which more than doubled their opponent’s total (22) and tied a team record for shots on goal in a home playoff game. But the Kings took advantage of a poor clearing attempt, a neutral zone turnover and a favorable bounce in their direction to score on three of their first four shots on goal.
“We had 52 shots, obviously not all quality chances, but we had a lot of looks,” said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle
. “There were a handful of mistakes early and three pucks in our own net. Other than that, you can’t question the work ethic or the heart. Everyone was trying hard. It was just stupid mental errors early. That cost us three goals and that cost us the game.”
San Jose battled throughout the game, adding 15 shots in the second period and 18 in the third. They finished the game having outshot Los Angeles, 52-22.
“It’s the playoffs,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton
. “Anything can happen. We realize that it’s going to be a long and hard series and we expected them to try and come quick. We played well for sixty minutes, but just not well enough. We’ll have to be better next game.”
“At the start of the game, we had some good energy and some good chances,” said left wing Ryane Clowe
. “Obviously, we had a lot of chances, but we didn’t win. With the chances we created, we did pretty good things five-on-five, we worked well down low and around the net. Quick made some really good saves on some backdoor passes where he got his leg on it. But the chances we had on the power play – we have to find a way to put some of those in.”
The Sharks had four power play opportunities including two in the final ten minutes of the game, but failed to convert with the man advantage. The team produced 14 shots on goal over their 7:40 of power play time.
“The one thing about our group is we tend to play better when we’re not comfortable,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “That’s now eliminated. They know – it sounds strange – that they put a pretty good effort in. If we can take that first four-shot series away from them, they gave us a pretty honest effort. We had enough chances to dig ourselves out of that hole, but we didn’t do it.”
In the end, Quick was the difference as had he not been amazing, the Sharks might be resting on Sunday in preparation for the next round.
“He played well,” Thornton said. “We just had to bear down. We did a good job in L.A. bearing down and tonight he was better than our forwards. We’ve got to focus and go win Game 6 in L.A.”
Quick stole goals away from Marleau, Couture and others during the Sharks relentless attack.
“The way he was playing tonight, pucks were finding him,” Logan Couture
said. “He’s a great goalie in this league. He’d been o.k. the first couple of games and he showed the way he can play tonight. He was spectacular. You make 51 saves in a playoff game, not too many goalies can do that.”
“We had some really good looks, you have to give Quick credit,” Clowe said. “That’s probably the most quality opportunities we’ve had this series.”
If the Sharks can shut down the defensive lapses, they feel the same offensive attack could provide the difference in Game 6.
“I think it’s one of those things when if you get those opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. You get a couple of bounces and things start going your way,” Marleau said.
Game 6 from Los Angeles will be at 7 p.m. and will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.