CaliSports News

Kings Can’t Solve Ex-Goalie Jones

If you were looking for the same kind of high octane matchup that the Kings had with their other California rivals, then perhaps this Kings-Sharks game might have been disappointing. It took 3:32 for a whistle to be blown and it wasn’t for a fight. In those 3 minutes, the two teams traded fairly even chances up and down the ice. The Sharks first really good chance came on a 3-on-1 when neither Alec Martinez nor his defensive partner Jake Muzzin could get back, but Quick deftly knocked the shot aside to his teammate Anze Kopitar who found himself on the attack and his own 3-on-1 by Martin Jones, who remembered his Jedi master’s training and made the save. The first power play went to the Kings, as did first blood when Dustin Brown tipped in Kopitar’s shot from the slot. Going in the Kings had the top power play in the league, functioning at 91.5%, the Sharks nipping at their heels in second place, working 89.5%. So when the Kings got their chance at a penalty kill (and a Drew Doughty-less one at that!) it was clear what that difference really meant. The Sharks couldn’t even get a shot off. In fact after their first 3 shots (at 1:56, 5:31, and 7:26 respectively, in which time the Kings had none) their next shot came with a mere 45 seconds left in the period. It was all Kings all the time; a second power play helped skew the shot totals in their favor. Alas not as successful as the first, but Quick taught Jones well. He stopped a grade-A Pearson can-opener chance and another by Tyler Toffoli moments later to keep the Kings from adding to their lead.

(photo credit to Augie Loya)

The second was just as uneventful as the first on the stats sheet. (Seriously this game was so tame and tight it somehow ended up being just as stressful.) 2:19 in Doughty took his second penalty when he stood by Mikkel Boedker and watch him fall, somehow the “tripping” was his fault. Whatever karma packs a punch as 27 seconds later Joe Pavelski actually did trip Kopitar and the game became 4-on-4. The Kings had some stellar chances but couldn’t solve Jones. At 5:34 Nic Dowd made the save of the game with a spectacular dive in front of the puck and the Sharks just couldn’t handle it, causing Joel Ward to interfere with Quick, scrap with several other players and head to the box. From there the Sharks gained momentum, evening up the chances almost easily. Quick’s Jedi Master status remained solidly in place but a 1 goal lead was looking less and less comfortable, and Jones was looking more and more unbeatable.

(photo credit to Augie Loya)

Clearly, my hockey psychic powers had given me a portent into the third period because that 1 goal lead quickly became a tied game and a 1 goal lead for the Sharks. The first came from the Sharks speed catching the Kings a little behind the play and they couldn’t quite keep up on the forecheck. Karlsson ended up rebounding in Logan Couture’s shot and the momentum continued from there. Nick Shore almost immediately after went to the box and the Kings spent the rest of the period on their heels. Their defensive breakdowns seemed bigger and Quick was called upon to actually be magic. The toughest blow came with 7:10 remaining in the third when the puck deflected off of a Sharks skate and past him. The King’s third-period comeback was being played in reverse. The Sharks defense kept them in check and Jones was not budging. It was obvious why the first two stars of the game were the goalies; they were practically unbeatable, coming up big and spectacularly. Unfortunately for the Kings, Jones came up big one time too many and even with Quick pulled for 1:07 they couldn’t solve him. They play again Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

(photo credit to Augie Loya)

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