WCQF Game 2: Emotions boil over for San Jose, string of undisciplined penalties allow Kings to even series with 4-0 shutout win

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Sunday, April 17, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

San Jose Sharks Ryan Clowe elbows Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty

San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski faceoff Los Angeles Kings Oscar Moller

San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton battle for puck with Los Angeles Kings Brad Richardson

There was an unusual amount of positive comments from San Jose for the first game of the WCQF series. Logan Couture discussed his childhood friendship with Drew Doughty. After knocking Ian White out of the game, several players and coach Todd McLellan stood up for the character of Jarret Stoll, and there was much respect given to the ability Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. After a string of penalties and undisciplined play in the second game of the series lead to a 4-0 blowout loss, the return of tried and true playoff hatred should return for the duration of the series.

“If we don’t have a bit of anger, if we don’t have a bit of shame lingering around us tomorrow or tonight when we go home, I would be extremely disappointed,” San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the game. After several scoring chances and a failed power play opportunity early, ill-advised penalties on Ben Eager, Ryane Clowe and Jason Demer bottled up the Sharks attack and gave the Los Angeles Kings more than enough opportunity to take over the game.

After avoiding a powder keg of emotion after Ian White’s head was driven into the boards by the forearm of Jarret Stoll, earning him a suspension for the game, the Sharks could not maintain their composure in game 2. In the offensive zone, Ben Eager wildly swung his stick to chop at the back of Jack Johnson’s legs. In his young career, Johnson has made a living an antagonizing opposing forwards. Johnson capitalized with his first goal of the season on the power play. His point shot found the near side as a sliding and unchecked Ryan Smyth provided a screen in front.

After being called for a roughing penalty early in the first game, Ryane Clowe let his emotions get the better of him early in the second contest. In an offensive zone faceoff won by Joe Pavelski, Clowe delivered a punch/buttend to the face of defenseman Drew Doughty. Doughty went down with an exagerrated eyes rolled to the ceiling flair, but Clowe made his way to the box. This time it was Doughty making the Sharks pay with a powerplay slapshot over the glove of Niemi, assisted by Smyth and Johnson. Nearly 5 minutes later, Clowe took his second penalty of the period, a crosschecking call at 17:52. San Jose escaped from the first period trailing 2-0, but it was a margin they could not maintain.

“You have to play with emotion this time of the year, you have to be emotionally attached. You have to have a little fire in your eyes and in your belly,” San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. “But you have to play with controlled emotion and smart emotion… They are one of the top defensive teams in the league for a reason. They have the ability to defend. You can’t fall behind 2 or 3 on them because they will shut it down.”

The Kings kept their responsible defensive mantra throughout, aided by several key individual efforts. In one sequence Jack Johnson tracked Marleau to the point, kept his stick in the shooting lane to inhibit a pass, then Johnson got inside position on Marleau to prevent a rebound attempt in front of the net. Across the board, the Kings were winning 1-on-1 individual battles and outworking the Sharks.

While the Kings are a strong defensive team with good goaltending, the Sharks have shown the ability to overcome a number of obstacles during the second half of the season. Drew Doughty’s goal at 15:42 of the second period put that prospect in the rear view mirror. Fans inside HP Pavilion were vocally displeased, and the body language on the ice and on the bench did not look promising.

San Jose skated out the string, but a matchup error down low in the third period added to their problems. Brad Richardson took the puck from behind the net to the side. Rookie defenseman Justin Braun was beat off the wall by Kyle Clifford. As he gained net front position, Thornton switched off Richardson to Clifford. Braun did not challenge Richardson fast enough, and Thornton could not check the stick of Clifford. A quick 1-timer across the crease made the score 4-0.

“It was a very big win coming into this building for game 2. You are short with key players out of the lineup, that requires a real competitive attitude. Guys have to really dig in and play hard for each other,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said after the game. “I think that competitive spirit is something our team has shown for many, many years. They care about each other, they play hard for each other. They did in when they have to. For me that is defined as a great hockey club.”

It was a gut check moment for the San Jose Sharks, not dissimilar from the one they faced internally after a 6-game losing streak in January. Ryane Clowe stepped up and challenged his team for wanting to score its way out of problems, and not do the dirty work to outhustle and outcompete opponents in low scoring affairs. The Sharks did a complete 180 from January 13th on, registering a 27-6-4 record based on a majority of 1-goal and 2-goal victories. Antti Niemi made 34 starts as the team gained confidence in him and vice versa. Instead of a fire and brimstone speech and bag skating the team after its longest losing streak in several years, head coach Todd McLellan went back to the basics. High percentage plays in your own zone, get the puck deep and force opponents to play 200 feet, and establish position in front of the net. A similar return to fundamentals for game 3 should be in order.

“We did nothing right tonight,” center Logan Couture said after the game. “It is a best of 5 right now.”

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

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