Though it was Joe Pavelski
’s finesse that won the game for the San Jose Sharks in overtime, it was the physical nature of the game that dominated the contest for the three prior periods.
“It was more of a man’s game tonight,” defenseman Jason Demers
said. “I think we stepped up and showed them (the Los Angeles Kings) that we can hit too.”
Scrums were sprinkled throughout the contest, especially in high traffic areas around the net and in the corners. These mini roughing contests also forced the officials to be active as they quickly intervened to break the players up before things escalated.
“It’s every playoff game,” fellow d-man Douglas Murray
said. “I think both teams, actually all 16 teams, focus on being physical.”
A total of 79 hits were tallied in Thursday’s matchup – San Jose with 43 and LA with 36.
“It was just the nature of the beast tonight,” said Demers who came up with two huge hits to stop potential breakaways in the third period. “The crowd tonight was unbelievable so we feed off that. It gives you an extra step, an extra jump. It was just one of those games - hard hitting.”
Team Teal got their physicality from the usual suspect of Douglas Murray
, Ryane Clowe
and Jamal Mayers, but also Devin Setoguchi, Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic
The Kings Dustin Brown, Murray and Setoguchi collected a game-high seven hits each.
It hard hitting play came as no surprise for either head coach.
“Absolutely, I thought it was going to be a physical, hard hitting series,” Terry Murray said. “And it was tonight. You never want to back down. That’s the kiss of death. The other team is going to read into that and attack.”
Added Todd McLellan: “The first game was very tight and a gritty type of game. We’re comfortable playing that type of game. We have some big bodies in the lineup. It’ll be a good seven-game series. They are strong. They feel comfortable along the boards. You have to give them credit for playing to their strengths. They have big bodies that hold onto the puck pretty well. We have to expect that going forward.”