Niemi helped carry the Sharks to a 6-5 win against the Kings last night (Photo Credit: Kristen Jerkins/Flickr)
Last night while there may have been 14 games on the schedule, one game stood out more than the rest. While many of you were probably already sleeping (if you’re on the East coast), the San Jose Sharks took on the LA Kings in what was undoubtedly a playoff atmosphere. The tempo of this game was absolutely ridiculous with both the Kings ans Sharks sealing playoff positions by the drop of the puck due to the Avalanche and Ducks losing. The Kings fought hard, showering Antti Niemi with 18 shots to the Sharks 3 in the first period, Niemi all but standing on his head to make saves. To really get the ball rolling Jumbo Joe Thornton hammered left handed fisticuffs to Kings Drew Doughty, which was followed shortly after by a bout with Ryane Clowe and Matt Greene. Throughout much of the first period the Sharks were shorthanded, with the referees dishing out obscene amounts of penalties, definitely gearing up for the playoffs. Coming out of the first period the Sharks and Kings were tied at one goal a piece.
The second period proved to be just as exciting as the first with both teams prepared for battle. Through the first eight minutes the two battled back and forth, but it would be LA who would one-up the Sharks as Jarret Stoll wristed a power play goal of of a roughing penalty served by Winnick. A few minutes later Dustin Brown added another tally to their column, providing the Kings with a 3-1 lead over San Jose. The Sharks, unhappy with this result fought until the last whistle of the period, cutting the lead to one goal with just 27 seconds remaining in the period. If they stood a chance they were going to have to prepare to come strong right from the get go and finish the Kings off.
To get the ball rolling Ryane Clowe waltzed right into the zone off of a rebound and shot it right past Quick to tie the game at three a piece. To the Sharks advantage their power play was on point for the night as they capitalized twice in the third period, giving them a 5-4 lead, their first lead of the game. With just under four minutes remaining in the third Kings Justin William would capitalize on a power play goal and send the game into sudden death overtime. The teams combined for seven power-play goals, three fights and at least one bizarre play when Ryane Clowe reached over the bench with his stick and touched the puck while L.A.’s Jarret Stollwas carrying it up ice. Clowe and Joe Thornton each recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight, but it was the third-period play by Clowe from the bench that stands out to everyone.
When asked about it Clowe said:
“I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’ll have to see the video or something. Someone show me the video.”(via NHL Recap)
Stoll, who slammed his stick on the ice after the fact in frustration, a minor reaction at most compared to what he could have done, was more calm post-game stating
“I have no idea what to say on that. It’s something that I don’t think any of us can see much of. You don’t see that play happen a lot. I’m sure Clowe will say afterwards that he didn’t know what he was thinking, either. It’s just one of those plays. You hope they see it, and they didn’t. What can you do? Move on. We’ve gotten some calls this year that maybe we shouldn’t have gotten, and maybe it evens it up.”
In the shoot out it would come down to Joe Pavelski as he carried the puck in against Quick with speed, went forehand, backhand and then top shelf to notch the only goal scored, providing the Sharks with a win and point, placing them as the seventh seed in the playoffs, just one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes. They are set to finish their regular season against the Kings on Saturday night, perhaps a bitter rematch is in store?