Kings stay alive with shutout win
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks might be starting to doubt.
Goals from three different skaters and 30 saves from goaltender Jonathan Quick enabled the Kings to beat the Sharks 3-0 in Game 5 on Saturday night.
"We just take it one game at a time," Quick said. "You can read my quotes from the past five days there. We're not looking at the series score, just trying to win 60 minutes at a time."
The best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal shifts back to L.A. for a Game 6 on Monday. Once up 3-0, the Sharks will not have to do this the hard way -- either win on the road or during a series-deciding Game 7 at home on Wednesday.
"You work hard to get to that 3-0 and we've got to find a way to win that fourth game," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said.
Adding injury to insult, San Jose's top defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, did not play after drawing a roughing penalty from Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll at 14:09 of the first period. Sharks coach Todd McLellan described it as a head injury.
"Unfortunately, he's injured, and we want to get that out of the game if we can," McLellan said, hinting at a possible concussion.
Coincidentally, Stoll was knocked out of Game 1 of last year's West semifinal matchup between the teams on a play in which San Jose left winger Raffi Torres was suspended for the remainder of the seven-game series.
"Pickles is a big part of this team," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of Vlasic.
Only three teams rallied from a 3-0 deficit to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Los Angeles forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were teammates with Philadelphia when the Flyers were the most recent team to do it against Boston in 2010.
"If anything, it seems a little more daunting because we came this far to get two, now we need to take two more," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "It puts more pressure on us because we can kind of smell it. We can't get ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
After the Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, Carter's behind-the-back centering feed from behind the goal line caromed off the right skate of Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart for a power-play goal and a 3-0 lead 22 seconds into the second period. It signaled the end of goalie Antti Niemi's night.
"It's tough," Niemi said. "I gave up a few too many goals and I got pulled. It's tough."
Alex Stalock relieved for the second time in as many games after Niemi surrendered three goals on 19 shots. The move was as much to shake up the Sharks, who were struggling around Niemi and were not giving the goalie much help. But Stalock also made a case to be the Game 6 starter with no goals allowed and 22 saves in nearly two periods.
"Nemo's played great, but we've kind of let him down the last two games," Thornton said. "Al came in and played well, but we have full confidence in both goalies."
Carter's second goal of the series came on a power play that carried over from the first period when Sharks defenseman Justin Braun tripped left winger Marian Gaborik at 19:28.
The Kings played their best period of the series in the first as centers Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar scored while the Kings outshot the Sharks 18-6.
San Jose appeared impatient, rushed plays in its own zone and tried to hit home-run passes while failing to establish any forecheck or tempo whatsoever.
"Usually, we have really fast starts in this building and that wasn't the case tonight," Thornton said. "They're a good team, you know they're going to come back. Now we have to go down there and try to win a game."
NOTES: Goalie stats took a beating through the first four games of the series. Los Angeles G Jonathan Quick sported a 5.05 goals-against average and .871 save percentage while San Jose G Antti Niemi had a 3.45 GAA and .889 save percentage. ... Monday's Game 6 will start at 10 p.m. EST in Los Angeles. ... The Sharks advanced all nine times previously when leading a series 3-1. But San Jose has now lost six straight Game 5s. ... The Sharks dressed the same 20 players for a fifth straight game. RW Marty Havlat, RW Tyler Kennedy, LW Bracken Kearns, D Matt Irwin and D Matt Tennyson were healthy scratches. ... The Kings dressed the same lineup as Thursday's Game 4, with D Matt Greene, C Colin Fraser and RW Jordan Nolan healthy scratches.