2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Preview
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 - Los Angeles 3, San Jose 1 – Sharks lead series, 3-2
This time when the Los Angeles Kings got a three-goal lead, they held on to it. In doing so, they remained very much alive in their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the San Jose Sharks. Just when a lot of observers thought that this series was in the bag, the seventh seed rose up from the ashes of heartbreak and found enough fightback to sink its second-seeded adversary. The Kings, reeling from two home-ice losses in Games 3 and 4, used another quick start and some timely goaltending to take this California collision back to the City of Angels for another contest.
The Kings scored three quick goals in the first period Saturday night at HP Pavilion and rode the sensational goaltending of Jonathan Quick, who made 51 saves, for an impressive two-goal victory.
Wayne Simmonds scored on a tip-in at the 3:36 mark to give the Kings and early lead. Later in the period, the Kings scored twice within a matter of 1:28 seconds to give them an early three goal lead and chasing San Jose starting goalie Antti Niemi out of the game for the second time in the series. This start was reminiscent of the L.A. surge at the start of Game 3. On that night, the Kings ultimately amassed a 4-0 lead but choked it away. This night, the underdog did not relinquish its grip on the scoreboard.
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The first goal in this game-starting spurt for the Kings was scored by Kyle Clifford on a slap shot at the 7:14 mark. The goal immediately settled down the entire Los Angeles bench while quieting a raucous HP Pavilion crowd in Silicon Valley. Then Dustin Penner added a wrist shot goal at 8:42 to plunge the “Shark Tank” into a state of even more pronounced misery.
The Sharks’ loan goal came in the second period when Patrick Marleau slipped one past Quick at 5:42. However, that’s the only puck Quick allowed to get behind him. If seasoned puckheads felt the Kings would wilt and allow their youthfulness to erode their resilience, they were proven wrong on Saturday night.
The victory by the Kings will force this series back to Los Angeles on Monday at the Staples Center, where the Kings will have the opportunity to even matters at three games apiece and force a Game 7. The only question which remains is if the Kings will be able to get the same type of effort in Los Angeles that they have been able to deliver in San Jose. It will also be important for San Jose to generate the fast start it gained in Game 4 but could not find in Games 3 or 5. If the Sharks keep insisting on allowing three goals early in games, they’re going to be pushed to the limit in this series.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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