Healthy Hertl, Torres help spark Sharks to 6-3 win over Kings in playoff opener
Friday, Apr 18, 2014 04:00 am
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks spent seven games struggling to get the puck past Jonathan Quick in a playoff loss a year ago.
Quick struggled to stop anything in the opener of the rematch.
Tomas Hertl and Raffi Torres both scored in their first game together as teammates and the Sharks jumped on top of Quick and the rival Los Angeles Kings with a 6-3 victory in their playoff opener Thursday night.
"We got fortunate with a couple of those goals," captain Joe Thornton said. "Just a weird night."
Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for the Sharks, who were stymied by Quick in losing a seven-game series to Los Angeles in the second round last year. Antti Niemi made 31 saves.
Quick allowed three goals in the first period for the first time in his playoff career, including two in the final minute as the Kings fell behind 5-0 after two periods.
Quick was replaced by Martin Jones in the third period and only watched as the Kings showed life with goals from Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov and Trevor Lewis.
But Brent Burns sealed it with an empty-net goal as the home team won for the 17th time in the past 18 meetings between these teams.
"We just weren't ready to play from the get-go," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We played into their hands and that's what the score should be."
Game 2 is Sunday in San Jose.
The Sharks were the healthiest they have been all season with Torres back after missing all but five games in the regular season and Hertl playing for just the third time since Brown injured him with an illegal knee-on-knee hit on Dec. 19 in a play that still riles the Sharks.
They got payback in the best way possible with a dominating opening two periods that showed off their much-improved depth when they are healthy. They got goals from all four lines and their defence to beat the Kings by more than one goal for the first time since Nov. 7, 2011.
"We didn't give up very much, we got on the attack and had everybody involved," coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought our goaltender made some real good saves in those two periods to keep us ahead."
The game had even added meaning for Hertl and Torres. Hertl talked before the series of his dislike for the Kings and said this series would be personal because of the injury.
Torres was suspended for the final six games of last year's series for a hit to the head of Jarret Stoll in a punishment the Sharks and Torres felt was unjust.
"I'm not really worried about who I play, I just want to be able to play and contribute and all that stuff," Torres said.
The Sharks had nothing to complain about after this game as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on for the victory.
The third playoff series in four years between these heated California rivals got off to an odd start as there was a power outage at SAP Center just minutes before the start of pregame warmups. The lights came back on about five minutes later and the players warmed up without the usual blaring music.
But by the time the puck dropped, the towel-waving crowd was at its usual fever pitch chanting "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" right from the start.
The cheers only got louder during a dominant first period that featured a combined 55 hits from the two teams, three goals from the Sharks and a scrum after Mike Brown pushed Voynov into Quick after the whistle.
"That's playoff hockey," Brown said. "We have to get to the net and get pucks to the net. That's what I did."
Thornton's deflection of Joe Pavelski's shot from the slot on a chance created by Burns' hustle to negate an icing gave San Jose the early lead.
San Jose broke things open with two goals in the final minute off broken plays. James Sheppard miss-hit a one-timer that slid right to Hertl, who tapped it in to make it 2-0 with 51.7 seconds to play.
Marleau then made it 3-0 with 3.2 seconds to play to cap a 2-on-1 with Matt Nieto, who failed to get off a one-timer but instead slid the puck back to Marleau for his 58th career playoff goal.
"When you come into a building like this you have to be prepared to face an onslaught at the beginning of the game," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We didn't do a good job of preparing for that."
NOTES: Brown played a night after his wife, Kati, gave birth to their second son, Zane Michael. ... Jones made four saves in his first career playoff game.