Sharks center Logan Couture didn’t even realize the pun he had used.
“I tried to shoot it quick on him, and somehow he stopped it,” Couture said of a second-period shot he made during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The person Couture was shooting the puck at was none other than Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. As it turns out, the 2012 Conn Smythe Winner is aptly named. He was simply too quick for San Jose in Game 1, stopping 35 shots and recording his sixth career playoff shutout.
Truth be told, Couture wasn’t in much of a mood Tuesday night to enjoy the merits of a good pun. He was all business after the game, pointing out what his team needs to do better to improve its chances of success in this series.
“Power play needs to be better, first of all,” Couture said of the Sharks’ 0-for-3 performance with the man-advantage. “Sharper, more shots, more traffic in front of him. Don’t let Quick come out of the blue like he did all night tonight. Guys weren’t committed to getting in front of him. That needs to change.”
There’s no question San Jose did some good things in Game 1. First off, the Sharks didn’t appear to be rusty after a one-week layoff between series. They were sharp from the outset, outplaying the Kings in the first period before Los Angeles scored its first goal with 12.9 seconds left before the first intermission. The Sharks also put a lot of pressure on Quick in the first and third periods, including a 16-4 discrepancy in shots in the third. San Jose outshot Los Angeles 35-20 for the game.
But Quick, who led the Kings to the Stanley Cup championship last year, was on the top of his game. He made a handful of spectacular saves and all the others as well.
“He was good. He made the saves he had to,” said San Jose’s Joe Pavelski, who switched lines late in the game to play with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. “He’s a great goaltender. Obviously, there’s a better way. We didn’t score tonight. We have to find a way to score.”
While the Sharks unanimously credited Quick with a fine performance, they also collectively acknowledged they can do more. While San Jose fired off some high-quality shots against Quick, they didn’t necessarily take him out of his comfort zone.
“We have to get a little hungrier, a little dirtier and a little meaner in front of their net,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said.
Although they didn’t score, the Sharks were also encouraged by how they played as a whole. But they also understand winning the ice battle is strictly a moral victory if the lamp never lights.
“We have to find ways to score,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We have to make it a lot harder on (Quick). Did we generate some chances? Yes. But we didn’t win the game. When the night ends, you have to have the job done. You can have as many good looks as you want, but you have to find ways to finish. We have players that are very capable of doing that. We have players that are capable of scoring greasy, dirty, playoff-style goals. But it’s going to have to come out in this series.”
One way the Sharks can get the advantage on Quick is produce on the power play. San Jose destroyed Vancouver on the power play in a four-game sweep in the conference quarterfinals, converting on 7 of 24 chances. They were 0-for-3 on Tuesday, although they produced a handful of high-quality shots, especially on their first attempt in the first period.
“The first one, we had a decent look or two there,” Pavelski saida. “Obviously, it has to be better. It has to produce. We can create a little more movement.”