After seeing their 3-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings fade away two years ago in a playoff series, the San Jose Sharks team was determined to respond to their southern California rival.
Los Angeles winger Milan Lucic is a newcomer, but knows not to underestimate the power of redemption or revenge when it comes to the Kings’ opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
California may not be the State of Hockey, but the Pacific Division features fiery competition, whether it’s San Jose, Los Angeles or Anaheim.
As Lucic told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, “It’s the Battle of California, and with how many times they’ve faced each other recently in the playoffs, it adds into a lot of hatred between the teams and I think it’s going to make for an emotional series. I’m excited for it to start.”
Goaltender Martin Jones, who played for the Kings from 2013-15, made his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday night.
The Kings opened the scoring early in the first period, as Jake Muzzin forged ahead of Jones and banked the puck off a defender and into the net. Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead at 2:33. Milan Lucic and Tanner Pearson picked up the assists on Muzzin’s goal.
The Sharks evened up the game, thanks to Joe Pavelski. On the power play, Brent Burns located Pavelski, who one-timed it past Jonathan Quick to tie the game 1-1 at 6:25. Logan Couture got the other assist on Pavelski’s goal.
Both teams were tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Brent Burns collected the puck off the faceoff and rummaged a wrist shot through traffic and past Jonathan Quick to put the Sharks up 2-1 at 6:50 of the second period. Joel Ward picked up the only assist on Burns’ go-ahead goal.
However, the Sharks’ lead was short-lived. On the power play, Jeff Carter skated in and sent a pass that deflected off two defenders, then off Martin Jones and into the net, tying the game 2-2 at 7:30. Lucic and Anze Kopitar picked up the assists on Carter’s game-tying goal.
Trevor Lewis broke free on a shorthanded rush and delivered an ingenious toe drag before shooting the puck top-shelf. Lewis’ unassisted, short-handed goal put the Kings ahead 3-2 with just 2:52 left in the second.
But the Sharks responded quickly. Just 30 seconds later, Tomas Hertl found a loose puck in the slot and buried it five-hole, tying the game at 3-3. Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi picked up the assists on Hertl’s power-play goal.
Both teams were tied 3-3 after 40 minutes.
Joe Pavelski scored the go-ahead goal just 17 seconds into the third period. Pavelski whipped a wrap-around shot past Jonathan Quick to give the Sharks a 4-3 lead. Justin Braun picked up the only assist on Pavelski’s second goal of the game.
The Sharks escaped an intense Game 1 with a 4-3 win over the Kings. Martin Jones made 19 saves for San Jose. Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for Los Angeles.
The Sharks lead the Western Conference Quarterfinals 1-0.
In his postgame interview, Sharks goaltender Martin Jones told the media: “Happy to get a win. But we’ve got a long way to go.”
Top-pair defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (knee) and third-line forward Matt Nieto (broken knuckle) practiced all three days this week without setbacks and will return to the lineup. Each missed the final 12 games of the regular season.
Veteran forward Dainius Zubrus will be a healthy scratch with Nick Spaling moving from the third to the fourth line, opening a spot for Matt Nieto.
Defenseman Dylan DeMelo will be a healthy scratch after playing in the previous 12 games while Vlasic was out.
Defenseman Alec Martinez, who missed the final four regular-season games with an undisclosed injury, skated Wednesday on the third pair with Rob Scuderi, and could return to the lineup.
Forward Marian Gaborik missed the final 28 regular-season games with a sprained knee. He practiced again Wednesday and spent time on the fourth line with Andy Andreoff and Trevor Lewis, but his availability is questionable.
Forward Jordan Nolan (back surgery) missed the final 25 games and was not on the ice.
Up Next: Both teams will meet again Saturday night for Game 2 at Staples Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT on NBCSN, CBC, TVA, CSCA, FSW.