Los Angeles Hockey: Logan Couture

Kings: All tied, 1-1, after physical first period vs. Sharks

April, 5, 2012
After the 1st period:

Kings 1, San Jose Sharks 1

The good: Three minutes into the game, it was announced to the crowd that the Kings had clinched a playoff berth for the third straight season, courtesy of a 2-0 victory by the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars. There were lots of cheers, but no high fives on the Kings’ bench, no stick taps by the players on the ice, not even a sigh of relief from Kings coach Darryl Sutter. In their minds, there’s still plenty of work to do. The Sharks and Kings remain in a tight three-team race for the Pacific Division championship and the No. 3 seeding for the Western Conference playoffs that comes with the title. San Jose, which also clinched a playoff berth with the Dallas loss, tried to intimidate the Kings early on, as its team captain, Joe Thornton, coaxed Drew Doughty into a fight for the first time this season. Though Doughty gave away about 30 pounds and took a couple good lefts to the face, his desire to throw blows with Thornton must have inspired his teammates. The Kings ended up with a two-minute power play following the scrap because Thornton was also called for cross-checking Doughty before the fight. While skating 4-on-3, the Kings scored when Anze Kopitar’s shot from the high slot rebounded off goalie Antti Niemi. The puck came straight back out, where Dustin Brown nudged it to the side, leaving Alec Martinez with an clear view to shoot the puck high in the net before Niemi could react. It was the sixth goal of the season for Martinez and the 49th assist for Kopitar, establishing a career high.

The bad: The Kings were completely dominating the game, out-shooting the Sharks, 18-3, and maintaining possession in their offensive zone for long stretches when San Jose scored out of the blue. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick kicked a long shot by Dominic Moore into the corner, where it was retrieved by defenseman Jason Demers. He passed to Daniel Winnick behind the net, then cut to the front where he got the puck back and scored his fourth goal of the season with 3:33 remaining. The way the Kings dominated the first 16 minutes, they deserved to go into intermission with more than just a tied score.

The in between: The Kings will still have 4:06 remaining to kill on a five-minute power play for the Sharks. Kings second-year forward Kyle Clifford hit Logan Couture from behind in front of the San Jose bench, and though the contact did not seem to severe, Couture crumpled to the ice and had to be helped to the locker room, while Clifford went to the box for a major boarding penalty. Kings defenseman Matt Greene also dropped the gloves for the first time, holding his own against San Jose alternated captain Ryan Clowe. The Sharks suffered another injury to one of the forwards when Torrey Mitchell was hit from behind by Colin Fraser in his offensive zone. Mitchell, who has nine goals and 10 assists this season, stayed on the ice for a couple minutes before he was helped to the locker room and did not return.

Kings: Second period eaten up by the Sharks

April, 20, 2011

LOS ANGELES — After starting the second period on such a high note Tuesday night, the Kings hit rock bottom before it ever ended.

The San Jose Sharks scored five goals in the second period to tie the score in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal, then won it, 6-5, on Devin Setoguchi's overtime goal, sending a shell-shocked Staples Center crowd walking slowly to the exits.

“That’s as bad as it gets in the second period,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “We did this to ourselves.”

In the opening minute of the second period, the Kings extended their lead to four goals against the second-seeded Sharks, but then seemed to throw their gears into neutral, becoming helpless to stem San Jose’s surge.

Patrick Marleau slipped one by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to cut the deficit to 4-1.

No harm done.

Two minutes later, Dustin Penner went to the penalty box for an unnecessary roughing penalty at center ice. Ryan Clowe scored on the ensuing power play to cut the lead in half.

The crowd started gettig antsy.

With about 6 minutes remaining in the period, Logan Couture gathered in a cross-pass from Ian White and slammed it into the side of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The crowd was no longer in a festive mood.

The Kings then got some energy back when Ryan Smyth scored 13 seconds later to retake a two-goal lead, but the Sharks turned Staples Center into a library when Clowe scored with 1:25 left in the period, followed by Joe Pavelski's goal with 31 seconds showing on the clock, putting the game back at square one and leaving the crowd gasping.

The Kings had not allowed five goals in a period all season.

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All of sudden it's tied 5-5 after two

April, 19, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 3 (Series tied, 1-1)

After the 1st period:

Kings 5, San Jose Sharks 5

The good: Not much positive to write about when the home team blows a four-goal lead early in the second period. The only bright spot was the offense did manage to tack two more points on the board. The Kings didn’t waste any time adding to their lead three-goal lead after the first intermission. Brad Richardson intercepted a pass in his offensive zone and scored an unassisted goal 44 seconds into the second period for a 4-0 lead. The goal was the second of the game for the Richardson line and third by the bottom two lines. San Jose pulled goalie Antti Niemi after the goal and inserted Antero Niittymaki, who must have brought his good-luck charm. Before the Sharks scored twice in the final 85 seconds to tie the score, Ryan Smyth scored what seemed like a huge goal for the Kings to regain their two-goal cushion. Smyth's goal came 15 seconds after the Sharks had cut the deficit to 4-3. Jarret Stoll brought the puck down the left side and slid a beautiful centering pass to Smyth at the right post and he tucked the puck into the net with 6:13 remaining in the period.

The bad: Just when the Kings thought they could relax and enjoy the lead, the Sharks scored twice in just under four minutes to cut the deficit in half, then twice more in the final two minutes to tie the score and hush the Staples Center crowd. About 2 minutes after taking the four-goal lead, Dan Boyle faked a slap shot and instead sent the puck just wide to Patrick Marleau, who redirected it into the net with Kings defenseman Matt Greene on his back. The Sharks then went on the power play after Dustin Penner was called for roughing and they capitalized with 17 seconds left on the man advantage as Ryane Clowe tipped in a cross pass from rookie Logan Couture with 13:07 left in the period. The damage didn’t end there as the Sharks cut into the deficit again while skating 4-on-4. Ian White, who sat out the last game after taking a hard lick that earned Stoll a one-game suspension for Game 2, slid a cross pass to Couture who had nothing but an open side of the net to shoot at. After the Kings made it 5-3 on Smyth's goal, the Sharks delivered a couple daggers as Clowe and Joe Pavelski took advantage of some poor clearing attempts by the Kings and put the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who is still in the game despite allowing five goals on 25 shots.

The in between: One of the biggest cheers of the period was for Anze Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer who was captured on the big screen watching from the press box. Kopitar went down with an ankle injury with seven games remaining in the regular season and lost for the playoffs. Kopitar looked as if he'd much rather be earning cheers on the ice and the Kings could sure use him about now.

Kings: Sharks win on Pavelski's goal in OT

April, 14, 2011
Joe PavelskiJason O. Watson/US PresswireSan Jose's Joe Pavelski reacts after scoring his overtime goal to beat the Kings, 3-2, in Game 1.
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 1

San Jose Sharks 3, Kings 2 (OT)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Joe Pavelski scored the winner with 5 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the first overtime at HP Pavilion in San Jose, lifting the Sharks to the victory in the opening game of the best-of-seven series.

THE STAT: Pavelski, in only his fifth season, notched his 16th career playoff goal and third winner in overtime. He set career highs during the regular season with 46 assists and 66 points.

TURNING POINT: It appeared as if the turning point would come 28 seconds into the game, when San Jose scored to take a 1-0 lead, but the Kings made it a game. Just before the winning goal, the Kings has possession in the San Jose zone but rookie defenseman Alec Martinez couldn’t control the puck and then fell to the ice. That allowed San Jose's Kyle Wellwood and Ryane Clowe to set off on a 2-on-2 rush against Matt Greene and Wayne Simmonds. Wellwood slowed up with the puck just inside the Los Angeles blue line as Clowe crashed the net. Pavelski then came up from behind with Martinez in pursuit, but Martinez couldn’t get back in position before Pavelski took a pass from Wellwood and slammed it into the net.

HOT: In his first game back since missing the last nine of the regular season because of a dislocated right shoulder, Kings right wing Justin Williams assisted on the first goal and scored the second, both of which tied the score.

NOT: The disappearing act of Kings left wing Dustin Penner continued into the postseason as he went pointless for the 13th consecutive game. It got so bad for Penner that he was demoted to the fourth line and played only five shifts in the second period. Penner, who was acquired in a trade with Edmonton in late February, still managed to be on the ice for the first two San Jose goals and had two giveaways.

GOOD MOVE: Williams tied the score at 2 with 3:40 remaining in the second period, scooping in a loose puck behind the net after two San Jose defenders converged on Ryan Smyth, leaving Williams unmarked. San Jose goalie Antti Niemi lost track of the puck and was looking over the wrong shoulder when Williams came from behind the net and tucked it inside the post.

BAD MOVE: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty tried to throw a hip check into Sharks rookie and childhood teammate Logan Couture as he carried the puck into the Kings' defensive end. He missed, leaving Couture to go one-on-one against goalie Jonathan Quick and slip the puck through his pads for a 2-1 lead with just less than 10 minutes left in the second period. Doughty also committed an ill-timed tripping penalty with 2:11 left in regulation, but the Kings managed to kill the penalty.

NOTABLE: San Jose defenseman Ian White was knocked from the game late in the first period after getting checked from behind by Kings center Jarret Stoll, smashing his face against the dasher boards. Stoll was not penalized on the play, but expect the league to take a look at the incident for possible disciplinary action. Already down one center with Anze Kopitar sidelined for the season because of an ankle injury, the Kings can’t afford to lose another to suspension.

UP NEXT: Game 2, Saturday at San Jose, 7 p.m. PT

Kings: Looking for a Quick turnaround

December, 27, 2010
Kings (21-12-1) vs. San Jose Sharks (19-11-5) at HP Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Two teams on a roll -- Expect another playoff-type atmosphere when these teams meet for the second time this season. Both clubs are playing some of their best hockey of the season and the winner will take over sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference. The Kings have won three straight after Sunday night’s 4-1 whitewash against the Anaheim Ducks and are 8-2-1 in December. The Sharks are riding a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and are 8-3-1 for the month.

2. This time it’s Quick -- The last time the Kings traveled to San Jose they were riding a six-game winning streak and the Sharks stopped them in their tracks with a 6-3 victory. That marked the beginning of a stretch in which Los Angeles lost seven of eight. The difference this time is the Kings will have their No. 1 goalkeeper, Jonathan Quick, minding the net. Quick has allowed just three goals in two games at HP Pavilion and stopped 45 shots in his last game there, a 6-2 victory in January.

3. The power is on -- The Kings seemed to have figured out their early season power play woes, scoring at least one man-advantage goal in eight of their last nine games. They haven’t experienced such a power surge since mid-February to early March 2009, when they scored at least one power play goal in 12 of 13 games. The key has been simple, according to coach Terry Murray: shoot the puck at the net and good things will happen. That’s exactly how they scored against the Ducks. Drew Doughty sent a laser at goalkeeper Jonas Hiller and Dustin Brown was there to tap in the rebound.

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Kings: On the way to San Jose

November, 15, 2010
Kings (12-3-0) vs. San Jose Sharks (8-5-2) at HP Pavilion, 7:30 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Role Reversal – The Sharks have won three straight Pacific Division titles. The Kings? Try 1990-91. But for one of the few times since San Jose joined the division in 1993-94, the Sharks are staring up at the Kings and probably wondering, ‘How did I get here?’ Well, for starters, you fired Dean Lombardi as general manager in 2002 and he now works for the Kings, where he has done a phenomenal job of rebuilding the organization. Touche!

2. Road Ready – After sweeping just their second five-game home stand in franchise history, the Kings play on the road Monday for the first time in 2 weeks. And this isn’t just any road game. According to a Sports Illustrated poll of NHL players last winter, the Shark Tank was voted as the ‘toughest road arena to play in." The Kings haven’t been so intimidated by the Tank lately, owning a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games at HP Pavilion, while just 3-6-1 at home against the Sharks.

3. Repeat business -- This topic is getting redundant but only because it’s getting more remarkable. The Kings’ penalty-kill unit has risen to the top of the NHL standings with a success rate of 92.2% this season. Let’s not hold our breath here, but the Kings are on pace to allow just 95.6 goals this season, and the NHL record for fewest goals allowed during a season of 70 or more games is 131 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1953-54.

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