Waking up with the Kings: April 17
-An entertaining and occasionally sloppy and wide open hockey game fell in the San Jose Sharks’ favor following a three-round shootout, as it often does. San Jose’s 12 total shootouts and eight shootout wins lead the league, while Antti Niemi has denied 33 of 42 shooters in the extra session in a remarkable campaign that should have him in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy. Despite some aspects of the Kings’ game that will need attention, not much was forfeited in the larger picture as Los Angeles maintained its fourth place standing, separated from deadlocked San Jose by virtue of seven additional regulation wins, from sixth-place Minnesota by two-points, and from seventh-place St. Louis by three points – though the Blues have a game in hand. According to SportsClubStats.com, there is a 90% chance that the Kings will finish fourth, fifth or sixth in the standings.
-San Jose’s forecheck pressured Los Angeles into a pair of turnovers that allowed the home team to take a 2-0 lead over the span of 42 seconds in the second period. For the first goal, Slava Voynov appeared poised to use the boards to send the puck out of the zone to the right of Jonathan Quick before changing directions and circling back behind the net. By the time he found Dustin Penner to his left, the Sharks had two players offering pressure. Instead of chipping or lofting the puck into the neutral zone along the boards, Penner held the puck and attempted to free Mike Richards loose with a backhanded pass towards the top of the circle. The pass was knocked down by right leg of the 6-foot-5 Burns, who adeptly cradled the puck and nearly got down to one knee to shoot a fluttering puck over Jonathan Quick’s glove hand. On the second goal, Robyn Regehr was left to contend with a swarm of teal in the corner to Quick’s right. TJ Galiardi deserves a lot of credit for beginning and ending the scoring chance as he covered a lot of ice to intercept Regehr’s pass along the boards and send the puck to Burns, who was straddling the trapezoid due southeast of Quick. Galiardi then made a beeline to the net to finish off Burns’ pass on a quick give-and-go set up once again by San Jose’s heavy forecheck.
-There was a lot to like about the setup of the Jake Muzzin power play blast that pulled the Kings within one in the second period. I’m not sure if San Jose even touched the puck after Trevor Lewis won the faceoff and eventually made his way to the net to provide a screen in front of Niemi. Muzzin and Voynov exchanged the puck at the blue line, and by the time Muzzin wound up for the shot, there wasn’t a Shark offering resistance within 15 feet. It didn’t appear that Niemi saw much of the heavy, low shot that improved Los Angeles’ power play to 23.8% over the team’s last 39 games (31-for-130).