Sharks down Kings, take 3-1 series lead

Ryane Clowe scored two goals and rookie Logan Couture had two assists to lift the San Jose Sharks past the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 Thursday night to take a 3-1 series lead in the Western conference quarterfinal.

San Jose showed a lot of energy and control after coming back from a 4-0 deficit to win Game 3 on Tuesday.

Jason Demers, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell also scored for the Sharks.

Antti Niemi made saves 35 in the win.

The Kings only offence came from goals by Justin Williams, Brad Richardson and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Although the game didn’t start off with the early scores the series is used to, there were some scuffles and the sense of urgency was evident.

With Dustin Brown and Matt Greene in the box for slashing penalties, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stood tall to stop the barrage of shots San Jose threw on net.

He struggled with only 21 saves.

The Kings weren’t helping their own cause with another penalty, this time hooking on Wayne Simmonds. The Sharks mustered a two-on-one chance, but Quick was up to the task with a squared-up pad save.

The Kings pestered Niemi with careful puck movement and shots from a variety of positions on the ice.

The Sharks countered with a couple rushes of their own capped off by a three-on-two, but Quick was in the way, once again, to make a great sliding glove save.

San Jose finally solved the young goalie at 3:58 of the first. An unexpected bounce off Jack Johnson’s skate in front of the net gave Clowe, who centred the puck from the corner, his first goal of the game.

The second score of the night come from a big bounce off of Quick’s pad onto the stick of  Couture, and in a fraction of a second, sent a cross-crease pass to Jason Demers who pocketed the gift for some breathing room at 14:48 of the second period.

The Sharks took a three-goal lead on a double-minor high-sticking penalty from Greene. Clowe scored his second of the night, burying another rebound, off an Ian White point shot.

Los Angeles replied quickly to the large deficit. Just 1:32 after the San Jose goal, Ryan Smyth fired a shot into the chest of Quick, the rebound landed on the stick of Richardson, who banged the puck behind Niemi to bring the score to 3-1.

A bit of luck touched down on the Kings just five minutes later when another cross-ice pass was redirected into the San Jose net. The goal was originally credited to Ryan Smyth receiving the feed from Williams.

On review, it was determined the puck bounced off of Sharks defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s skate – Williams’ second of the postseason – to bring Los Angeles within one.

The Sharks weren’t deterred by one defensive mistake. Kyle Wellwood brought the puck deep into the Kings zone, circled the net, and threw the puck out to a streak Thornton increasing the up-and-down lead to 4-2.

And they continued to push. Wellwood won another impressive faceoff back to Dan Boyle pinching at the blue line. His shot deflected off the stick of Pavelski between the circles and redirected off the stick of Johnson through the legs of Quick.

Wellwood continued his onslaught on the Kings defence, throwing a shot on net that created another rebound. The puck sitting just outside the crease, Mitchell put in his first of the post- season to create an intimidating four-goal lead.

But like the first three games, these teams just don’t quit. Los Angeles immediately responded at 13:11, less than two minutes after the Sharks goal, with Ponikarovski firing a shot, top corner, past the outstretched arm of Niemi.

Despite a five-on-three man advantage with three minutes left to the play, the Kings offence was too little too late to close the gap.

The 6-3 win puts San Jose up 3-1 in the Western quarterfinal with the series heading back to the Shark Tank on Saturday.