SAN JOSE, Calif. – The only similarity in the rematch of a tightly played seven-game series between Los Angeles and San Jose is that the home team keeps winning.
What’s drastically different is that Jonathan Quick and the normally air-tight Kings defence is giving up goals at a staggering pace.
Fourth-liners Mike Brown and Raffi Torres scored second-period goals to erase an early two-goal deficit and the Sharks shredded Quick for a second straight game, beating the Kings 7-2 Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
“I don’t think that this series is going to play out in blowouts like this, night after night,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “They’re a very good hockey club. They’ll find their game and they are going to push us. We have to be prepared for that.”
Justin Braun, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who overcame a two-goal deficit after the first period of a playoff game for just the third time in 26 tries in franchise history. Antti Niemi made 24 saves.
The Sharks matched a franchise playoff record with seven goals in a game and have 13 goals through two games after managing just 10 in a seven-game loss to Quick and the Kings last year.
“He’s probably the best goalie in the league, so to do that two games in a row, it’s an oddity,” Thornton said. “We’ve been working hard for our goals and the fourth line got this game back in our grip for us, but scoring seven … just a weird night.”
Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis scored first-period goals before Quick allowed seven goals in the final two periods. Los Angeles heads home for Game 3 on Tuesday looking to get back into this series.
The Kings can take comfort in the fact that the home team has won 18 of the previous 19 games between these teams, including nine straight in the playoffs.
Los Angeles also overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first round against St. Louis last year, but those were one-goal games, not blowouts.
“If we’re not playing the way we’re supposed to, having the coverage we’re supposed to then those types of things are going to happen,” defenceman Robyn Regehr said. “We’ve really got to clean that up in a hurry.”
The Kings appeared poised to steal home-ice advantage when they scored twice in the first period and Quick responded after allowing five goals in two periods of a 6-3 loss in Game 1 on Thursday.
But the Sharks seized momentum in the second period thanks to a decision to drop Pavelski to the third line and a spark from the fourth line.
Known for the ability to deliver hard hits and get into fights, the line of Andrew Desjardins, Torres and Brown has set the tone for the Sharks this series.
Brown pushed Slava Voynov into Quick early in Game 1 and Torres added a goal in that contest. They came through even more in Game 2 with Brown scoring his first career playoff goal on a quick shot from the slot after a turnover by Kyle Clifford to get the Sharks on the board early in the second.
Midway through the period, Desjardins dropped a perfect pass to Torres, who beat Quick up high for the equalizer. Torres missed the final six games of last year’s series for a hit to the head of Jarret Stoll, but has made his impact felt so far in the rematch.
“If their fourth line can have that big an impact on a game, we have to have a response,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “And we didn’t have a response from anybody, really.”
The Sharks took the lead late in the period when Braun beat Quick with a shot from the point through a screen by Tommy Wingels.
Marleau, Pavelski and Couture turned it into a blowout with goals off odd-man rushes in the third before Thornton scored a power-play goal.
“They were kind of running around out of position and it opened up holes for us,” Couture said. “Some bad changes by them again. That’s so uncharacteristic of their team. We know they’re going to be a lot better in their building. It’s going to be a tougher challenge going forward.”
NOTES: San Jose’s only other playoff comebacks from two goals down after the first period were on April 23, 1994, against Detroit, and April 19, 2011, against Los Angeles. … The Kings scratched F Jordan Nolan in place of a seventh defenceman, Matt Greene, who was on the ice for four San Jose goals.