Twenty-two seconds. That's the amount of time it took for the Los Angeles Kings to take Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals from the San Jose Sharks, giving the Kings a 2-0 lead. Aside from the Bruins' comeback blitz on the Leafs in Game 7 of the opening round, I don't know if there has been a more heartbreaking loss during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's a lot to think about for San Jose, and a lot to recover from.
It started with Brad Stuart taking a penalty for tripping Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli. Twenty-two seconds later, Marc-Edward Vlasic took the dreaded puck-over-the-glass penalty with 2:19 remaining in the third period. The Sharks still believe that the puck deflected off Jeff Carter and into the stands, but the call was made and the Kings had a five-on-three. At 18:17, Dustin Brown found a way on a mad scramble. 22 seconds later (parallels!), Trevor Lewis beat Antii Niemi to give Los Angeles the lead for good, winning 4-3 and breaking the Sharks' hearts.
Game 3 is Saturday night at the Shark Tank, however, which should make things a little easier. The Sharks are good at home, and if they can hold serve, they can make this a series again. However, if they get only one out of two at HP Pavilion, this series is going to be a long, uphill climb for San Jose. After dominating in round one and playing well enough to win Game 2 of this series before ultimately falling, the Sharks need to get on track before things completely derail.
Will the Sharks continue their dominance at home?
San Jose was an awesome 17-2-5 at HP Pavilion this season, and they obviously went 2-0 at the Shark Tank during the first round. The Tank is known as one of the loudest, most difficult buildings to play in across the National Hockey League. Can the Sharks use it to their advantage, or will Los Angeles fight it off and get the 3-0 series lead that they need?
Can the Sharks stay out of the penalty box at key moments?
This is kind of an obvious one. Debate the Marc-Edward Vlasic penalty all you want, you have to stay out of the penalty box, and especially stay away from five-on-threes late in the third period of a playoff game. The Kings went 3-for-6 with a man advantage in Game 2, which is simply unacceptable for San Jose. The Sharks largely stayed out of the penalty box in Game 1, taking only one penalty and killing off. That's probably the template they would rather stick to for Game 2.
Will the Kings tighten up even further?
After stealing Game 2 from the Sharks, you have to wonder if Game 3 will be a return to form for Los Angeles after giving up three in Game 2. That could be frightening for the Sharks, but the Kings will likely stress getting back to playing defensive hockey, and Jonathan Quick will almost certainly play better. He hasn't given up three goals or more in two-consecutive playoff games since 2011. The Sharks need to keep pushing at whatever was working in Game 2.
Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN