Despite outshooting the San Jose Sharks by a 14-2 margin in the third period, the Los Angeles Kings still couldn’t overcome a two goal deficit, and they fell to the Sharks 2-1 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Logan Couture and Brent Burns both scored for the Sharks, and Mike Richards scored the lone goal for the Kings as San Jose tied the series up at two games apiece.
The result may have been different had it not been for a quick whistle on a play in the second period. On that play, a Kings player fired a shot at San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi, who went into the butterfly to stop the attempt. He wasn’t able to fully control it, however, and the puck trickled between his legs and was lying in the blue paint behind him. Unfortunately for the Kings, the official standing behind the net blew the whistle very quickly, and thus negated what could have been a momentum shifting goal in that period.
In the early stages of the game, it definitely appeared that the Sharks were going to dominate the contest. In the first two periods of the game, in fact, the Sharks attempted a mind-boggling 46 shots, with 21 of them finding their way to Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and the other 25 being blocked by Kings players or missing the net. The Kings, by contrast, attempted 26 shots, and 17 of them didn’t find their target.
The third period was a completely different animal, however. In that frame, the Kings started to really assert themselves, dictating the tempo and finally connecting on the passes that were not finding stick blades in the first two frames. They even started winning more faceoffs after doing a poor job of it in the first two periods of the game, but in the end, it was still the Sharks that were able to prevail.
The Sharks were also helped a great deal in the early stages of the game thanks to some very undisciplined penalties by the Kings. Center Colin Fraser was a big offender, taking two penalties that both resulted from lackluster defensive effort. On the first, he hooked San Jose winger Patrick Marleau, and on the second, he jumped into a check attempt on Andrew Desjardins, and even though the contact was minimal, the way in which he went about the hit did not sit well with the officials, who put him in the penalty box despite his protests.
Drew Doughty also had a bad penalty in the game, taking a huge slash across the forearms of a rushing Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The play did not result in a goal for the Sharks, but like the other two infractions it did allow the Sharks to continue to dictate the tempo in that period, in which they outshot the Kings 15-3.
For now, the series will head back to Los Angeles on Thursday night, where the Kings will try to stem the tide of momentum that the Sharks have built up.