The Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-0 Tuesday at Staples Center, to take a 1-0 series lead in the battle for California. It was the Sharks' first loss of 2013 NHL playoffs and the Kings' fifth consecutive win.
The game got off to a slow start, but eventually became a fast-paced, physical affair.
After both teams had a few strong offensive zone possessions, it appeared as though the first period would end scoreless. However, Slava Voynov put the Kings on the board with just under 15 seconds to go. He walked in from the blue line and took a slap shot which beat Antti Niemi high, finding the top left corner of the goal.
Midway through the second Voynov took a wrist shot from the point which was deflected home by Mike Richards. Once again, getting bodies in front of Niemi proved to be the difference.
From that point on it was all Jonathan Quick, who made it look easy on the way to his sixth career playoff shutout.
The Sharks threw everything on net, outshooting the Kings 16-4 in the third period and 35-20 overall. The 27-year-old netminder was constantly in position and rarely allowed a big rebound. It seems Quick has returned to playing at the level he did in last year's postseason.
Richards and Voynov played pivotal roles offensively, each registering a goal and an assist. And yet, their play without the puck was exceptional as well.
Richards was instrumental in killing off two penalties, he won 55 percent of his draws, recorded four hits and blocked a shot. Voynov led all players with 23:54 in ice time and had two hits and two blocked shots.
With that said, there is still plenty of room for improvement for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
They were caught in their own end on a few too many occasions, specifically in the third period as the Sharks pressed hard. And, while two goals were enough in this game, the Kings still need to find the scoring touch that was prevalent throughout last year’s playoffs.
Look for Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown to step up in the coming games, as they've combined for just two goals thus far in the playoffs.
Game 2 between the Kings and Sharks goes Thursday at 10 p.m. ET in Los Angeles.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.