SAN JOSE, Calif. — A fast start quickly gave way to a disastrous middle and a brutal end for the Los Angeles Kings Sunday in San Jose.
Down 1-0 in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Sharks and determined to avenge an embarrassing Game 1 loss, the Kings opened up with a 2-0 first-period lead.
But in the second period that lead disappeared and in the third the Kings unraveled as they fell to 0-2 in the seven-game series with a 7-2 loss to the Sharks Sunday night at the SAP Center.
For the second time in as many games, the Sharks scored five unanswered goals, this time adding in two more. It was a collective breakdown in all facets of the game they so desperately wanted to force their opposition to play.
"I don’t really know if it’s one thing in particular," said captain Dustin Brown. "We gave up a lot of odd-man rushes again. And even in the first, we were up 2-0 and they had a lot of good chances. We needed all 20 guys to be on top of their game."
At the onset, it was uncharacteristic Kings hockey in the best way possible. Darryl Sutter dressed seven defensemen and matched the Sharks speed.
Jake Muzzin scored his second postseason goal early to give the Kings a 1-0 lead and the team instantly fed off of it. Goaltender Jonathan Quick all but stood on his head to deny the Sharks before Jeff Carter hit Trevor Lewis for the second goal of the period, effectively deflating the once-raucous Shark Tank.
But everything that worked in the first period suddenly didn’t in the second.
"We felt that next goal was extremely important," said Kings right winger Justin Williams. "They were able to get it and we weren’t. It carried their momentum."
The Kings paid for each mistake made, as they found the puck in the back of their own net with every defensive miscue. The Sharks’ fourth line made them pay the heaviest fines in the form of three second-period goals.
"Their (James) Sheppard/(Andrew) Desjardins line dominated us in the second period," Sutter said. "We didn’t have an answer for that."
"If their fourth line can have that big of an impact on the game, we have to be able to have a response and we didn’t have a response for anything," Brown said.
The Sharks scored only 10 goals in seven games against Los Angeles in the 2013 postseason series between the two. They matched that number in under 102 minutes this year. Sutter never likes to change goaltenders in the middle of a period but showed an extra reluctance to remove Quick after he had given up seven goals.
Quick stopped 33 of the 40 shots he faced and the goalie that gave up the fewest goals in the regular season has now given up the most of any team in the postseason (13).
"I thought he was fine today," Sutter said, tersely.
In the first round of last year’s playoffs, the Kings fell behind 2-0 to St. Louis before winning the next four straight to advance and face San Jose.
Against the Sharks in last year’s series, neither team lost at home. With the Kings now headed back to Staples Center in an 0-2 hole, it’s still yet to be determined whether or not this playoff series has shades of last year’s.
"Every playoff and every run through the playoff is different, has a different feel," Williams said. "We need to get back home, we have one day between to get ourselves together, regroup, refresh, put this one behind us and take a step in the right direction with some pushback."