Dodgers-Giants; Rams-49ers; Galaxy-Earthquakes. The innate rivalry between two sides of the same coin that is California is an entertaining one. The contention between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings is no different.
When California is split into two, the tension is palpable. Northern against Southern California is a trope that is used to the point of overuse, yet it is simple and very much effective.
As the San Jose Sharks battled against the LA Kings on Jan. 17, the presence of the rivalry was very much apparent as it was both NHL giants’ first time facing each other this season. Seeking a win as well as potential playoff accolades, both teams hit the ice ready to prove their side of the Golden State.
Since the 1990s, San Jose has taken the cake with 102 wins over the Kings’ 81. The Sharks were able to notch another victory to make it 103, as they bested their California counterpart, 6-2.
Three minutes into the first period, the Sharks’ Timo Meier shot his first of many to the back of the goal, putting San Jose at an early lead. Meier would eventually add 5 points total to the Sharks’ scoreboard, making him the only player to reach that number in the franchise’s 31-year history.
After securing the first goal, Meier did not let up. Right before the 15-minute intermission, he managed two more goals only 21 seconds apart from each other. The first period concluded with a Sharks lead: 4-1, three of them being Meier’s doing.
“It was special,” Meier told the NHL. “It’s a pretty cool feeling. But at the same time, you don’t want to get too high. We get a day off tomorrow, and then it’s back to work. It definitely gives you a lot of confidence, but you want to go back and work hard.”
Focused, yet humble, Meier added on two more goals on the Sharks’ scoreboard in the second period.
Not only did fans respond with cheer and chatter, but Meier’s peers also made sure to create commotion in celebrating his accomplishments. The entire stadium began cheering “Timo,” and the morale on the ice was raised as a win seemed in reach for the Sharks.
Either due to the fast-paced nature of hockey or the fact that San Jose refused to slow its skates, even as the Kings added a few points to their side of the board, the Sharks continued to swim toward victory.
Completely balanced in a stellar offense and an effective defense, the Sharks were in peak performance –– perhaps due to the laurels that lay ahead in beating a team such as the Los Angeles Kings.
The defense, anchored by goalkeeper James Reimer, refused to create an opening for the Kings to slip through. By the end of the afternoon, Reimer boasted 39 total saves. With shots being deflected and redirected, the Sharks created counter-opportunities to skate across the ice, all the way to the opposition’s goal line.
The offense and defense were in perfect harmony while the Kings struggled to display the coordination required to execute a win. Missteps and mistakes were sprinkled throughout Los Angeles’ performance in the form of defensive disasters as well as follow-through freakouts. The puck just wasn’t on the Kings’ side for the afternoon.
As the Sharks chomped through their competition, the stadium came alive in support of its winning team. San Jose’s season continues on to what its fans hope is another win against the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 20.
Whether the Sharks tear their opponents apart or drown in enemy waters before the NHL playoffs remains to be seen.
Maria Khan is a deputy sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].