SAN JOSE -- The Kings' system, preached since the day coach Terry Murray arrived in 2008, isn't the most eye-appealing thing on ice. It doesn't lend itself well to highlights.
When executed properly, though, it is highly effective. It's not easy to play with discipline and smarts for 60 minutes, to bang, crash, poke, hit, block and cycle for three periods, but when it happens, it's an art that hockey connoisseurs should stand and applaud.
So, on a big stage, in a game that could have turned into a disaster, the Kings turned in one of their most impressive efforts in recent memory, as they beat the San Jose Sharks 4-0 in Game 2 of their first-round series on Saturday night before 17,562 at HP Pavilion.
Drew Doughty had two goals and two assists, Jack Johnson had one goal and one assist and Kyle Clifford had a game-clinching goal early in the third period as the Kings evened the series 1-1 heading into Tuesday night's Game 3 at STAPLES Center.
``The old cliche of getting a split on the road at the start of the season, and bringing it back home, is what you talk about often,'' coach Terry Murray said. ``It was never more true than it was here tonight. We had to come out and show everything, pour it all in. We know there's two days until the next game. Guys held nothing back. They did the right stuff. Hard along the boards, hard in front of the net. They really paid a price in this game to get the job done.
``I loved the way we cycled the puck. That was critical to our defensive part of the game. Get pucks behind them, be strong on the cycle. (Trevor) Lewis with (Ryan) Smyth and (Justin) Williams, in particular, were really good. That takes time off the clock. That helps us play with confidence and get some pucks to the net in the right areas at the right time.''
The oft-maligned power play scored two first-period goals, Jonathan Quick made 34 saves in the sixth playoff shutout in franchise history and the Kings won a playoff game by more than two goals for the first time since Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993.
``We know what kind of character we have in this locker room,'' Quick said. ``With a couple guys out, we've still got to do the same thing, even if they're in the lineup. That's when our team plays best, is when we play from our system, strong defensively, and then we get our chances from there. The power play had some great opportunities and scored a few big goals for us early on. It's only one win. We've got a long way to go. We're looking forward to Game 3.''
To say the Kings turned in an unexpected effort in Game 2 would be a massive understatement.
Already without No. 1 center Anze Kopitar (ankle injury), the Kings also didn't have No. 2 center Jarret Stoll, who served a one-game suspension for his Game 1 hit on Ian White.
Up the middle, the Kings went with veteran Michal Handzus, grinder Brad Richardson and rookies Lewis and Oscar Moller, not exactly the Fantastic Four of pivotmen. The Kings figured to need a low-scoring, grind-it-out game in order to have a chance.
So much for conventional wisdom. Without Stoll, the Kings closed ranks and seemingly decided that if the offense was a bit depleted, the defense would carry the way.
The Kings got good defense from forwards, and all six Kings defensemen played strong games. The Sharks totaled 34 shots on goal but had only a handful of threatening scoring opportunities. The best one might have come early, when Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell deflected a shot, in a still-scoreless game, that looked to be going in.
The Kings went 5-on-5 on the penalty kill against an ultra-dangerous Sharks power play, forechecked aggressively and recorded 22 blocked shots, to the Sharks' eight.
On the other end, the Kings' defenseman combined for nine of the team's 23 shots on goal. Doughty and Johnson tied Richardson for the team high with three shots on goal each, and both young defensemen scored big first-period power-play goals.
``We were moving the puck well (on the power play),'' Doughty said. ``We studied the PK and we saw tendencies and we exploited them. We moved the puck quick, found the seams and got the puck to the net. We had great net presence as well. Those are the keys to a successful power play, and we've got to continue them.''
Doughty came up huge for the Kings. In Game 1, Doughty didn't play poorly, but he also got caught on the highlights when San Jose's Logan Couture -- a childhood friend -- evaded his check at the blue line, skated in a scored.
in Game 2, Doughty owned the highlights. His second goal, a smart drag-and-shoot power-play goal with under five minutes remaining in the second period, seemed to be the back-breaker, as it gave the Kings a 3-0 lead going into the third period.
``I was definitely a little more motivated,'' Doughty said. ``I was a little upset when I messed up on that one goal in the first game. Not that I was going to over-do it and try to make up for it too much, but I definitely wanted to, and I thought i played a good game tonight. We're just really looking forward to taking this momentum back to L.A.''
A Kings team that totaled only 11 regulation goals in its final seven regular-season games -- after Kopitar's injury -- found life. The Kings scored more than one power-play goal in a game just once in their final 19 regular-season games, but did it Saturday.
The Kings killed an early penalty, then took a 1-0 lead on their first power play of the game, with 7:47 remaining in the first period. Doughty made a cross-ice pass to Johnson, whose slap shot beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi from the left point. Handzus also got an assist.
A second power-play goal gave the Kings a two-goal lead. Smyth carried the puck deep into the San Jose zone, then found Doughty open in the high slot. Doughty took the pass, steadied the puck and beat Niemi to give the Kings a 2-0 lead with 4:17 remaining in the first period. Johnson also picked up an assist.
``Ironically, the power play has been something that has been a concern in the last quarter of the season for us,'' Murray said, ``and here it is, in a big game here tonight, and stepped up and really performed well. But there's been a lot of time put in, to get this thing going and get it turned around, to have the right outcome in a critical point in the game, and it happened here tonight.''
The Kings took a 3-0 lead with 4:18 remaining in the second period. Kyle Clifford pushed the puck toward the blue line to Doughty, who carried it from the right side to the center of the ice, found a shooting lane and scored on a shot with Moller running traffic in front. Rob Scuderi also picked up an assist.
Clifford gave the Kings a 4-0 lead 4:54 into the third period. Richardson carried the puck out from behind the net and sent it through the crease. Clifford, positioned at the far post, got sight of the loose puck before Niemi did and knocked it over the line. Doughty also picked up an assist, for his fourth point of the game.
All that was more than enough for Quick, who became the first Kings goalie to record a playoff shutout since Felix Potvin in 2002.
``It was just a compete attitude,'' Quick said. ``Everyone competed, from the first faceoff right until the last horn. It's something that we knew we needed to do, coming in. We knew we needed a big effort against this team. We've got to build off this, watch the video, figure out all the things that we did right, that worked, and bring it to Game 3.''
1 - 0 LAK
2 - 0 LAK