Los Angeles took a 3-2 series lead with the win and are now on the brink of advancing to the Western Conference finals for the second straight year.
Los Angeles got on the board first when Anze Kopitar had an easy tap-in goal off a blast from Kyle Clifford. The goal was a big lift for Kopitar, who has struggled through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Kings hope a goal will jump-start Kopitar, who didn’t score a goal in the Kings’ final 16 regular-season games. The Slovenian center was the postseason’s co-scoring leader last summer with 20 points in 20 games.
“It felt good to get us on the board. It’s fair to say that this was probably our best effort in the playoffs,” Kopitar said. “We carried that emotion, that desperation that we had in the last period of Game 4 of the series.”
“I think Kopitar does a lot of things that go unnoticed,” said Matt Greene. “For him to get a goal, get a reward on the score sheet is great, but we all know his value in here.”
With the win, Quick earned a franchise-best 27th playoff victory, passing Kelly Hrudey. It was also his second shutout of the series and third of this year’s playoffs.
“It’s really getting old (smiles), there is nothing new to say. He gives us a chance every single night and that is what you want,” Kopitar said.
“What Kelly meant to this organization 20 years ago was pretty impressive. Everything he accomplished here and over the past few years. I’ve gotten a chance to know him and he’s a great guy, loves hockey,” Quick said. “I remember watching him when I was growing up, he was very competitive and hated to lose obviously. Being able to pass him on that list it’s an accomplishment but wins are team accomplishments, so you got to give credit to the guys you play with. Very fortunate to be on a team with guys that care about winning so much. At the end of the day, it happened in the middle of a playoff run, so your focus is more on the next game than what we were able to accomplish today.”
Though Quick kept the Sharks off the scoreboard, Sharks coach Todd McLellan felt his team made it too easy on the Kings goalie.
“I didn’t think we tested him a lot tonight,” McLellan said. “There are a number of goalies in this league who could have performed that way tonight. His best save may have been his last one on Pavelski when we pulled the goalie.”
When asked about how he would characterize his team’s performance, McLellan didn’t mince words.
“This was a team loss. Our go-to guys weren’t particularly good tonight and that is when your depth guys need to come through as well and provide that spark and a bit of energy. Tonight, they didn’t. We will be better in Game 6.”
The series now shifts back to San Jose where the Kings have lost seven straight games.
One statistic that is working in the Kings’ favor: Seventy nine percent of the teams that won Game 5 when a series is even at two, have gone on to win the series.