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Know Thy Enemy: Kings 2014 Playoff Path

Los Angeles opened by joining one of the most elite clubs in North American professional sports by dispatching the San Jose Sharks in seven games after having fallen behind 3-0.

The reactions of Jonathan Quick and Tomas Hertl tell the story.
The reactions of Jonathan Quick and Tomas Hertl tell the story.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Round One: (Pac2) San Jose Sharks vs. (Pac3) Los Angeles Kings

Game One - April 17: Sharks 6 vs Kings 3

Jewels From The Crown (Kings Blog) RecapFear The Fin (Sharks Blog) Recap

After their second round meeting went the distance with the home team taking every game last season, the Sharks continued the trend of home team dominance in game one with their largest offensive output against the Kings since game four (an identical 6-3 final) of their 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal. San Jose scored the first five goals of the game, building a 5-0 lead through two periods that chased Jonathan Quick for the third. The Sharks would get two points apiece from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Tomas Hertl, James Sheppard and Brent Burns, with the eventual game winning goal ripped home by Raffi Torres just past the midway mark of the game. SJ's lower lines were major possession drivers early on, building momentum and a sizable advantage that allowed the Sharks to withstand three third period goals.

Game Two - April 20: Sharks 7 vs Kings 2

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

Having suffered the indignity of conceding a six pack, the Kings were much better about getting shots early and held a 2-0 lead after the first period thanks to goals from Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis. However the Sharks would more than double LA in shot-blocking for the game, preventing 22 from reaching the target and again swung momentum thanks to the play of their lower lines in the second period. Justin Braun gave the home team the lead just over five minutes before intermission, then the bottom dropped out for the Kings in the third period. The big fish came to eat in the third as Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Joe Thornton piled on the punishment, with the seven tallies setting a new San Jose record for goals scored against the Kings in a playoff game and equaling a feat last accomplished in a 7-3 regular season triumph at STAPLES Center in November of the 2006-'07 season.

Game Three - April 22: Kings 3 vs Sharks 4 (Overtime)

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

With the thorough domination in the first two games at SAP Center in the rear view, the shift in scene enabled the Kings to get better possession numbers for much of the first two periods. After Jarret Stoll equalized just under five minutes into the second Marian Gaborik picked up his first playoff goal as a King a matter of minutes later. The lead would be short lived as Matt Nieto tied it, and San Jose took the reins in the third hammering 23 shots at Quick. Jeff Carter and Hertl traded goals nearly half the period apart to send the game to overtime, which concluded on the Sharks first shot of the added frame when Marleau's backhander clipped home off a Kings defenseman's stick. The win made the Teal Fish a perfect 5-0 against LA in playoff overtime.

Game Four - April 24: Kings 6 vs Sharks 3

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

The chance to eliminate their rivals served as the figurative blood in the water for the Sharks, who came out firing and carried the play for much of the game. The difference was for the first time in the series Quick outplayed Antti Niemi, helping the Kings survive 17 shots against in the first period with a 1-1 score through 20 and setting the table for a big second period. As he's done so often in his career Justin Williams scored a pair of big goals, first a power play marker nearly four minutes into and then chipping home a rebound off the end boards with less the four minutes left in the second. With Niemi leaving rebounds Tyler Toffoli was opportunistic in the final minute of the frame to put the Kings up 4-2 after two. Gaborik chased Niemi 34 seconds into the third in favor of Alex Stalock, and the Kings had life. Also of note this was the first game in the series where Los Angeles blocked more shots than San Jose.

Game Five - April 26: Sharks 0 vs Kings 3

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

One would think returning home with a chance to close out would motivate San Jose, instead they were completely overwhelmed by the Kings from the get go and could never recover. Los Angeles had an absurd 75% Fenwick For while the game was within two goals, blitzing the Sharks for 18 shots in the first period and getting goals from Toffoli and Anze Kopitar. Carter's backhander banked in off the heel of Brad Stuart 22 seconds into the second period, and for the second game in a row Niemi gave way for Stalock. LA would continue to pepper the Sharks backup, testing him 22 times in total but unable to dent the net. For Quick's part he stopped all 30 shots he saw as again the Kings defense blocked more shots, and earned the American his first playoff shutout since a similar 3-0 whitewash in game five of their meeting in last year's Western Conference Semifinal.

Game Six - April 28: Kings 4 vs Sharks 1

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

Now sensing the sea change in the series, San Jose elected to start Stalock for the first time in his postseason career and the Kings scored on their third shot of the game as Williams redirected a centering feed home nearly six minutes into play. The action remained tight through the second period as Sheppard squared the score and had the teams even at 1-1 heading into the third. As the Sharks misfired in the final frame the Kings stepped up, and when Williams was credited with a goal nudging Stalock and the loose puck behind him into the net past the midway mark San Jose fell to shambles. Kopitar scored a pair of goals 1:15 apart just 1:31 after the Williams goal, and then things devolved into 'message sending' in the final two minutes. Doughty picked up an assist on the final goal, a power play tally, once again a vital cog in driving possession for the Kings in the game as well as the series as a whole.

Game Seven - April 30: Sharks 1 vs Kings 5

Jewels From The Crown RecapFear The Fin Recap

With history in the offing, San Jose and Los Angeles traded possession spells like prize fighters trading blows in the first period, but neither side could wobble the other. Matt Irwin put the Sharks ahead less than 30 seconds into the second, but the Kings got the goal back less than five minutes later on a power play mark by Doughty. LA took the next three penalties in the game but snuffed out each odd-man opportunity, and 30 seconds after the third infraction expired Kopitar put the Kings ahead 1:21 before the second intermission. The goal had a crushing effect on the Sharks, who after two unblocked attempts on net gave up next five to start the third and then gave up the dagger to Toffoli. A late push with nine minutes remaining proved fruitless as the Kings consigned the Sharks to sushi with a pair of empty netters to complete the fourth backdoor sweep in NHL postseason history. Kopitar's tally served as the game winner, appropriate as he picked up a point in every game of the series, and Carter and Mike Richards became the only two athletes to ever be on the winning side of two rallies from 0-3 series deficits in any North American professional sport.