SAN JOSE, Calif. — With the Kings’ 2-1 loss Sunday night to the Sharks in San Jose, it now comes down to one game for the right to advance to the Western Conference finals.
TJ Galiardi’s goal first of the playoffs just over four minutes into the second period would hold up as the game winner.
Like they have throughout the majority of this series, the Kings got off to another slow start. Facing elimination, the Sharks went on the attack from the outset and forced the Kings into three penalties in the first five minutes of the game.
With Mike Richards already in the penalty box for hooking, Anze Kopitar was assessed a delay of game penalty when his clearing attempt in the Kings’ zone went over the glass.
“Richards was a penalty. Kopi’s was a penalty. It’s not very good when you first two centerman are sitting over there in those good seats (penalty box) looking at you,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
“That five on three cost us,” added a frustrated Kopitar. “It’s clearly up to me not to fire the puck over the glass.”
The Kings’ road woes continued in San Jose as they have now dropped eight straight at HP Pavilion. Last year in the playoffs, the Kings stampeded through the opposition’s buildings, winning 10 straight. This year has been an entirely different story as Los Angeles is a porous 1-5 on the road, scoring just one goal in each of the losses.
Now the scene shifts to Staples Center on Tuesday where the Kings have won 13 straight.
“That’s why you play the whole year,” said Richards. “We’re obviously comfortable there with our record and to have it come down to one game is exciting. Obviously we would have rather had it tonight but it’s going to be a good game on Tuesday and whoever plays their best the longest is going to win.”
“It’s going to be a hard game and we know we have to bring our best,” added Kopitar. “We’ve been good in our home building, so that’s a plus.”
While spirits were understandably down in the Kings’ locker room, Sutter was at his finest in fielding questions from the media.
When told it was the organization’s first Game 7 since 2002, Sutter replied, “Who cares. Who cares. Is that a major announcement tomorrow?”
Later, Pierre LeBrun of TSN entered the press conference after it started. LeBrun, a well-known national sportswriter not wanting to repeat any questions, asked Sutter what he missed from the press conference.
“I was awesome,” Sutter responded. “I found out during the press conference that we haven’t played a Game 7 since 2002. I can’t wait for that.”
The levity continued when the coach was asked if he had any complaints about Sunday’s game.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “Crowd was great. We were ready to go. It was a 5 p.m. start. We can get out of town. Our plane leaves in 15 minutes. We get to go home and play Game 7.”
If only his team could have performed as well on the ice as the coach did in handling the media, the next game the Kings would be getting ready for is Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.