By Dennis J. Freeman
Los Angeles-The latest overtime playoff defeat suffered by the Los Angeles Kings in their NHL opening round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks stings a little more than the first. In fact, it is probably a lot harder to swallow, considering the Kings blew a 4-0 lead and fell to the Sharks, 6-5, in overtime in front of a raucous, standing room only crowd at Staples Center Tuesday night.
Devin Setouchi scored the game-winning goal with 3:09 in the overtime period to give the Sharks a 2-1 series advantage over the Kings. Game 4 will be played Thursday night at Staples Center.
“We did this to ourselves, with our clock management, with whatever you want to call it; turnovers, not getting it in when you’re supposed to get it in deep and trying to do way too much,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “You’re exhausted, you’re rattled, you start doing things that are very uncharacteristic, and they’re playing the game the way they want. They get into a track meet-that’s the game they want. After getting down 4-0, we obliged them. And all of the problems came our way because of what we were doing.”
The Kings were doing all the right things in the first period, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead. In fact, one could argue that the Kings were on fire in the first couple minutes into the game as Willie Mitchell and Kyle Clifford scored goals. After Michal Handzus scored the third goal in the period, the Kings had the Staples Center crowd in delirium.
After wrapping up a win in Game 2, the Kings came out like gangbusters in their first home playoff game.
But by the time the second period had concluded, the Kings knew they were in a contest. Brad Richardson’s goal at the 44 seconds in the second period put the Kings up 4-0. Then the walls came tumbling down on the home team.
The Sharks outscored the Kings 3-1 in the second period to turn a potential rout into a game. The Sharks then scored two goals with less than two minutes to play in the third and final period to send the game into overtime. Ryane Clowe’s second power play goal at 18:35 in the third period made it a 5-4 ballgame.
Joe Pavelski’s goal at 19:29 knotted the score at 5-5 to send the game into the extra period. Most of the 18, 216 fans attending the game sat and watched in disbelief. The Sharks didn’t waste time knocking off the Kings in overtime when Setouchi, off an assist from Patrick Marleau and Niclas Wallin, put the finishing touches on the giant comeback with his goal.
“We got away from our game,” said Kings defenseman Matt Greene. “I don’t think we let up. The effort was still there. I think we got away from our game…we’re a grinding team. That’s how we have success. We’re not run-and-gun. We’ve got a lot of skilled guys, but we’re definitely not run-and-gun, especially against a team like that. That’s what hurt us tonight.”