2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Preview
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 2 - Los Angeles 4, San Jose 0 – Series tied, 1-1
Losing an overtime playoff game can be devastating for an underdog team, but the Los Angeles Kings showed the resilience of a group with far more postseason experience than it actually owns.
The Kings were stomach-punched on Thursday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The seventh seed in the Western Conference played the San Jose Sharks on even terms for 60 minutes and then traded punches in overtime before losing on a goal by Mr. Springtime, Joe Pavelski. San Jose, which escaped the first round last year thanks to the very same Mr. Pavelski, had to feel elated about its ability to escape Game 1 with a victory. The Sharks had a chance to play an even stronger set of three periods in Game 2 and take full control of the series.
Instead, they’re in for an all-too-typical first-round battle. The Kings would not slump their shoulders in response to Thursday’s overtime defeat. The boys from the City of Angels completed a central trip to central California by gaining a split at the Shark Tank on Saturday night.
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One power play goal after another propelled coach Terry Murray’s team to a strong bounce-back triumph in Game 2. Jack Johnson began the scoring for L.A. at the 12:13 mark of the first period, and just 3:30 later, Drew Doughty put the biscuit in the basket on yet another man-advantage session of ice time. The quick strikes settled down Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, who found a comfort zone with the early two-goal advantage and never faltered in the course of 60 airtight minutes. Quick was able to pounce on loose pucks and steer clear of trouble on a regular basis. He didn’t allow bad rebounds and never got caught out of position. The netminder exhibited complete confidence despite his lack of extensive postseason competition; in that sense, Quick set an example for his teammates, who are not accustomed to the playoff grind because the Kings haven’t been a regular postseason participant. San Jose goalie Antti Niemi won the Stanley Cup last year with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he looked very small in net compared to Quick and the rest of the Kings, who controlled the flow of this tussle from the opening face-off until the final buzzer.
Last season, San Jose lost Game 1 of its first-round series and was fortunate to escape Game 2 with an overtime win against Colorado. This year, the Sharks figured out Game 1 in round one, but they’re heading to a road building for Game 3 with another series split on their hands. It’s apparent that this franchise, which has never sailed smoothly through the playoffs, is in for another dose of drama. How fitting that the Sharks will encounter more intrigue in the land known as Hollywood.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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