(AP) Quick’s LA Kings put Sharks on brink with 3-0 win
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in his seventh career playoff shutout, and the Los Angeles Kings moved to the brink of their second straight trip to the Western Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 on Thursday night.
Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov scored, and Jeff Carter added an empty-net goal as the defending Stanley Cup champions won their 13th consecutive home game in dominant fashion and lead the series 3-2.
Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots for the Sharks, who have played more than 96 minutes without a goal since they appeared to be taking control of the series midway through Game 4.
Game 6 is Sunday night at the Shark Tank.
The home team has won every game in the series, and the Kings remained unbeaten at Staples Center since March 23.
After losing the past two games in San Jose and struggling through much of the past three games overall, the Kings rebounded with another stretch of dominant play from their Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalie, who also shut out San Jose in the series opener.
Quick won his 27th postseason game, taking sole possession of the franchise record from Kelly Hrudey.
After getting soundly outplayed at the start of the past three games, the Kings met the Sharks’ tempo and urgency from the beginning in Game 5. The Kings sharpened their physical game, outmuscling and outhitting the Sharks to take a 3-2 series lead.
Kopitar opened the scoring late in the second period, tapping in a loose puck after a sustained stretch of pressure on Niemi. Voynov then scored 3 seconds after a penalty expired early in the third, firing home his fourth goal in nine games.
Quick finished up from there, making a spectacular point-blank save on Joe Pavelski a few seconds before Carter wrapped it up with an empty-netter.
Los Angeles, 25-4-1 at home this season, has won seven straight home playoff games dating to last season’s Stanley Cup clincher against New Jersey.
San Jose substantially outplayed the Kings in the first period of the past three games, and Los Angeles cited a strong start as its key priority for Game 5.
The Kings got it, albeit in a scoreless first period, outshooting the Sharks 9-6 while playing a punishing physical game that slowed down Joe Thornton and hampered San Jose’s relentless speed.
The Sharks played roughly 17 minutes without a shot into the second period, but the Kings couldn’t cash in several scoring chances in front of Niemi, including golden opportunities for Mike Richards and Justin Williams.
San Jose got several chances of its own, notably with a 2-on-1 break for Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, but Quick kept everything out of his net.
Niemi made a spectacular save on Carter’s wraparound chance late in the second period, but that play led to a long stretch of uninterrupted pressure by the Kings.
Kopitar’s tap-in included assists for Williams and Kyle Clifford, who replaced Dustin Brown on the Kopitar-Williams line for Game 5.
The goal was just the second of the postseason for Kopitar, who didn’t score a goal in the Kings’ final 16 regular-season games. The Slovenian center has led Los Angeles in scoring in each of the past six seasons, and he was the postseason’s co-scoring leader last summer with 20 points in 20 games.
The Kings scored again when Trevor Lewis won a faceoff against Thornton, who has dominated the circle in the series.
Lewis, who scored the winning power-play goal late in Game 2, got the puck to Voynov for a long shot through traffic immediately after a power play ended, and the Siberian defenseman matched Carter for the team lead with his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The power play resulted from a goalie interference penalty against TJ Galiardi, who drew the Kings’ ire Wednesday by claiming Quick embellishes contact with opponents to draw undeserved penalties.
NOTES: After sitting out earlier in the postseason with an injured left ankle, Jason Demers got his first action of the postseason for San Jose, which sat LW Tim Kennedy to make room. Demers, normally a defenseman, usually played forward. The Sharks are playing without injured forwards Marty Havlat and Adam Burish. … Los Angeles dressed the same lineup as in Game 4, although coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his lines. … Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer watched the game from seats on the glass.