Jim Neveau, NHL Correspondent
Ever since the Los Angeles Kings took a 4-0 lead in Game 3 of this series, the San Jose Sharks have seemingly taken the momentum and run with it. They came back and won that contest, and they came out firing again on Thursday night, firing 13 shots at Jonathan Quick in the first period. None of those went in, but they converted on three of their 10 shots in the second period, and then they converted three of four shots in the third to put away a 6-4 victory at the Staples Center.
The Kings had an opportunity to get back into the game with about three minutes left when they got a 5-on-3 power play chance. As they had on their first four chances in the game, the Kings were unable to pot a goal, and things got chippy after that with Wayne Simmonds and Kevin Westgarth both picking up game misconducts in the waning seconds.
Down 3-1 in the series, the Kings will look to turn things around as they head back to HP Pavilion for Game 5 on Saturday. They’ll need to find their defensive prowess again if they want to stay in this series, and they’ll also need to limit the number of penalties they commit, as it was Drew Doughty’s roughing minor that Sharks center Scott Nichol induced him into taking that led to two of the Sharks’ goals in the second period. Can they pull themselves together and get this series back to Los Angeles? We’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out, but until then, here were Thursday’s Stars of the Game:
San Jose Sharks: Ryane Clowe
For the third time in four games, Clowe grabs the Star of the Game honors for the Sharks. The distinction could have easily gone to the aforementioned Nichol, who not only got Doughty to commit that foolish penalty in the second but also drew a high-sticking penalty that led to the Sharks’ third goal. Antti Niemi also warrants mention for his 35 save effort that helped keeps the Sharks in front when their lead dropped to one.
As for Clowe, he scored another two goals on Thursday, and he also picked up a couple of hits in 16:38 of ice time. Considering that he isn’t 100% healthy while dealing with the remnants of a lower body injury that cost him the last three games of the regular season, Clowe has performed above and beyond and really lifted the Sharks to where they are right now.
Los Angeles Kings: Willie Mitchell
Brad Richardson looked great again with a goal and five shots, and Alex Ponikarovsky also scored a goal and dished out two hits, but the distinction goes to Mitchell for a few reasons. He was one of the few Kings on the plus side of the plus/minus divide, and he also picked up an assist in 20:13 of ice time. He was a crucial component in killing off all but one of the Kings’ penalties, and he was a solid force on the blue line in this one.