Wow! The San Jose Sharks came out to play last night at the SAP Center. When the horn sounded at the end of the third period, the Sharks were up 6-3, taking the critical first game. Wearing the alternate Black sweaters, the Sharks hit hard in the first period getting goals by Captain Joe Thornton, rookie Tomas Hertl, and fan favorite & alternate Captain Patrick Marleau. As expected, the game was very physical with both sides putting hits on the other. After the third goal, LA Coach Darryl Sutter had the most frustrating expression on his face. Once the fifth goal was scored, the entire LA bench had a hangdog look about them.
Near the end of the first period, a scrum ensued at the King's goalpost. Four different players : Mike Brown (SJ), Andrew Desjardins (SJ), Jordan Nolan (LA), and Kyle Clifford (LA) were each assessed two minute minors. When the teams returned to the ice for the second period, the Sharks kept the pressure on. Raffi Torres scored on an even strength (game-winning-goal) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic earned a power play goal to put the Sharks up 5-0. Niemi remained brilliant in goal.
The third period had LA replacing Jonathan Quick with Martin Jones. The Sharks came out flat for the first half, allowing LA to score three goals by Muzzin, Voynov, and Lewis. LA still needed two more to tie, so they pulled Martin at the 1:51 mark. Brent Burns gained an empty net goal to seal the win for San Jose.
Through-out the game, the fans in the arena chanted 'Beat LA' to encourage the team. After Joe scored the first goal, the roof was vibrating with glee. When Hertl scored his first NHL play-off goal, his smile almost split his head open. Patrick Marleau's 58th play-off goal is second only to Jaromir Jagr in active skaters for total number of play-off goals scored. Announcer Randy Hahn said that the 'Left-Coast' was winning the game as every left-winger on the Sharks team had scored during the game (on all four lines).
If the tradition holds, that the home team wins the series, then the San Jose Sharks are on their way. Game two is Sunday. Expect LA to come out hard, but the Sharks have their number.
Go Sharks: BEAT LA!!
video highlights of the game from the official NHL website:
photo gallery from the game via the Sharks website: