SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ third line of James Sheppard, Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels had some good moments in Thursday’s Game 1 against Los Angeles.
The trio teamed up for Hertl’s first goal since returning from a knee injury, converting on a rush in the final minute of the first period to make it 2-0. Sheppard earned his second assist moments later on Patrick Marleau’s goal, when Marleau scored off a two-on-one with Matt Nieto.
“It was really nice,” Sheppard said of contributing on the scoreboard. “It was nice for Hertl to get there. Tommy is driving the net 100 miles an hour, and so is Hertl. It’s great to have those guys on the line.”
There were some worrisome moments, though, especially late. Sheppard was faked out by Slava Voynov’s fancy footwork, and the Kings’ defenseman found some open room to shoot inside the far post at 6:55 of the third period, making it a 5-2 game.
To be fair, no one on the Sharks had a particularly good third, as the Kings outshot the Sharks 16-5 and scored three goals to turn a blowout into a closer match. But, Sheppard also had a tough night in the faceoff circle. He won just two of 11 draws, all of which came against Jarret Stoll. Late in the game, Joe Pavelski ended up taking some of the draws against Stoll, winning four of five against Los Angeles’ third line center.
After not playing center on a regular basis until after the Olympic break, taking faceoffs is still a work in progress for Sheppard. He watched some video on Friday morning, focusing on that aspect of the game.
“We can start with the puck a little more,” Sheppard said. “Sometimes there are bounces here and there, but for the most part it’s getting the timing down and getting used to that kind of motion. Just continuing to work on it.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan has the luxury at home of getting Pavelski out there against Stoll when the draws become more important, like in the defensive zone.
When the series shifts to Staples Center, the Kings will get the last change. There is a notion that the coach could move Pavelski back to the third line when the Sharks head to Southern California, and McLellan basically suggested as much on Friday.
“In fairness to James, he hasn’t been put in that situation a lot until the last month and a half. He’s trying to polish that up, and I know he’s doing everything that he can,” McLellan said.
“On home ice with the last change, we have that luxury if we have to in the defensive zone get certain people out. But, again, if they’re fatigued, [Sheppard] has to step up and win some of those. It will be maybe a greater concern when we get on the road.”
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Did Mike Brown get into Jonathan Quick’s head?
The fourth line forward relayed that after he, let’s say, aided Slava Voynov into plowing into Quick less than five minutes into the game, the Kings’ goalie made sure to take a whack at Brown with his stick any time he ventured towards the crease for the remainder of the game.
As for the play itself, which resulted in a goalie interference minor on Brown but no power plays for either side, Brown joked that if he’d “rather get a strike than a spare” when creating havoc in front of the net. Mission accomplished.
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The Sharks’ skate on Friday was optional, and the only players that went on the ice that played in Game 1 were Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Andrew Desjardins and Raffi Torres.
San Jose will likely skate as a team on Saturday, with Game 2 set for Sunday at 7:00 p.m. (CSN-CA).