Two foolish penalties by the San Jose Sharks — one late in the game and another in overtime — gave the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday’s game on a silver platter. Not only were the Kings handed the victory, but they were also given hope in the Pacific Division.
San Jose allowed a ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty with a 3-2 lead 12:21 into the third period; a goal by Anze Kopitar tied the game for the Kings. A hooking penalty by Justin Braun paved way for another goal by Kopitar in overtime, leading to a Los Angeles victory. Neither penalty is acceptable at the NHL level — especially the six-men penalty.
There is no excuse for that mistake to be made in the third period of a game you’re leading. The Sharks may have been able to establish themselves at the top power in the Pacific Division if it weren’t for that penalty.
Now San Jose must face the fact that the Los Angeles Kings will stick around in the Pacific, which is concerning considering the Kings’ recent success over the Sharks. Los Angeles and San Jose split their season series in 2012-13, but the Kings eliminated the Sharks from the Western Conference semifinals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Kings have had the Sharks’ number over the past calendar year. San Jose had an opportunity to halt the Kings’ momentum in the rivalry Wednesday night but failed to do so. Los Angeles made sure San Jose knows they aren’t going anywhere this season, despite the Sharks’ hot start.
What could be even more concerning with the loss is the play of Antti Niemi. He wasn’t horrible, but he should have been much better considering he did not start in the Sharks’ last game against the Ottawa Senators — his first day off this season. He allowed four goals on Wednesday night against the Kings and sent away just 19.
The Sharks should be concerned about this loss. They weren’t able to solidify themselves as the best team in the Pacific by beating the Kings at Staples Center. Stupid penalties lost the game for San Jose. They can be prevented, but shouldn’t be repeated.