LOS ANGELES – Joe Pavelski scored two goals, including the game-winner in the third period and the San Jose Sharks sank the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in Game One of their first round NHL Playoffs matchup.
Game One of the NHL Playoffs marked the fourth time in the last six years that the SoCal/NorCal rivals have met in the postseason. After a stunning, seven-game series in 2014 saw the Kings comeback from a 3-0 series deficit to win the next four games en route to their second Stanley Cup trophy in three years.
Fittingly, the two teams picked up right where they left off in the first period: scoring. Jake Muzzin put the Kings on the board first when he sent a shot off Sharks' center Thomas Hertl's skate into the net.
Former Kings netminder, Martin Jones, overcommitted on the play, leaving Hertl to defend the net and Muzzin wisely banked it off him for the game's first goal.
"That's not something you want to get in the habit of," Jones said of surrendering the first goal. "They're a tough team to come back on, but it was great to battle back and get the win."
Joe Pavelski tied the game at 1-1 a few minutes later when the Sharks went on the power play. The Kings have one of the best penalty kills in the NHL, but could not stop San Jose after Anze Kopitar was whistled for interference 5:46 into the first period.
"We lost the special teams battles. We took too many penalties," Kopitar said. "You just can't give them too much momentum. We have to do a better job of staying out of the box, and that our mistakes don't result into goals against."
Brent Burns broke the game open when his slapshot beat Jonathan Quick at the 6:50 mark in the second period, but the Kings immediately went on the power play and tied the game thanks to the law firm of "Martin and Martin." Carter's shot went off San Jose defenseman Paul martin's stick and then bounced off Martin Jones' back for the game-tying goal.
Trevor Lewis put the Kings up 3-2 with a remarkable shorthanded goal in the second period, but with seconds still left on the San Jose PP, Hertl redeemed himself with the game-tying goal.
"I knew they were tired here and Kinger was talking to me, telling me I had a little time and I looked up and saw we had a 2-on-1," Lewis said of his goal. "I saw he was driving the D and I just kind of pulled it and shot it."
The back-and-forth battle took a tragic turn just 17 seconds into the third period when Pavelski scored his second goal of the game on a sensational slingshot wraparound goal from behind the net.
"It's one of those things where it's a back-and-forth game, but we gave up a big momentum goal right after we scored on the penalty kill," Kings captain Dustin Brown added. "I think we need to change a lot of things. It starts with having everyone ready to go."
Players of the Game:
Joe Pavelski: Two Goals, including game-winner.
Trevor Lewis: Shorthanded goal.
Joel Ward: Two assists.
1. Faceoff Feud: Two of San Jose's goals came off faceoff wins, including the game-winner as Pavelski beat Kopitar clean to the puck, then fought him off behind the net as he wrapped around for the game-winning goal. That's a center-on-center matchup that Kopitar can't lose if the Kings want to win the series.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 15, 2016
2. Power Surge: The NHL's third ranked power play team squared off with the Kings top ranked power kill. The Sharks power play won the battle as they threatened all night, scoring one (arguably, two) power play goals.
3. Sharks Out for Revenge: San Jose was clearly the best team on the ice tonight. The Kings looked sloppy and lackluster to say the least. Two lucky bounces gave L.A. their first two goals, and a shorthanded goal was the third. The Sharks looked hell-bent on avenging their first round loss to the Kings two years ago when they blew a 3-0 series lead.
The Kings and Sharks will meet again at Staples Center for Game 2 of the first round of the NHL Playoffs on Saturday night at 7:30PM PST.
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