In the final game of the regular season the San Jose Sharks (25-16-7) fell to the Los Angeles Kings (27-16-5) by the score of 3-2, sealing their fates’ for the playoffs.
After the loss the Sharks take the sixth seed in the conference and are all set to face the third seeded Vancouver Canucks. With the win the L.A. Kings took fifth and will play their series against the fourth seed in the conference St. Louis Blues.
To be honest, the Sharks get the easier of the two playoff matchups. A series against the Canucks will be much less physically demanding compared to that which they would get against the Blues. Also, the Blues ran the Sharks over last postseason and no doubt they could do that again. Still, this is the NHL playoffs we are talking about, so expect a grind. Now, the race to 16 wins begins.
The scoring got started in the second period when Kyle Clifford scored 48 seconds in. He went high to the blocker of Antti Niemi who stopped the initial shot. Unfortunately, with a bit of back luck, the puck bounced into the crease and when Niemi waved at the puck to knock it out of the danger area he ended up whiffing. The puck then trickled by him into the net giving the Kings 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later Logan Couture evened the game out when he scored on a great individual effort. He skated through a few defenders in the Kings zone by himself and was able to fire a puck short-side on Jonathan Quick.
Later still, about five and a half minutes into the period, defenseman Slava Voynov scored when he shot the puck from the point. The shot was actually deflected by Sharks forward James Sheppard around the slot and the change of direction of the puck was more than enough to sneak by Antti Niemi.
Moving on to the third period, Los Angeles added another goal to get to 3-1 on Justin Williams’ 11th goal of the season. His goal came after a nice give-and-go with his linemate and in the end he banged home the shot. Both Brad Richardson and Dustin Penner picked up the assists.
The Sharks decided to not go down without a fight and with about two and a half minutes left in regulation scored on a goal by T.J. Galiardi. He scored after a great pass from Joe Pavelski and brough San Jose back to within one goal, although that would be all the scoring there was. The Sharks pulled Niemi and got a few decent chances on net but were unable to beat Quick for a third time. The Kings won the game 3-2.
When all was said and done it was the Kings taking the final victory of the season with the final prize being a seven-game series with the St. Louis Blues. The Sharks now take on the Canucks in what will be a great matchup of two highly talented teams. Stay tuned for a series preview and breakdown coming on Monday.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Kyle Clifford (1 goal, 3 hits)
2. Justin Williams (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Brad Richardson (2 assists)