The talk before Game 2 centered on how much Los Angeles was missing in the middle of the ice. Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick showed the Kings still had plenty of pieces left even without two of the team's top centres.
Doughty had two goals and two assists, Quick made 34 saves and the Kings beat the San Jose Sharks 4-0 in Game 2 on Saturday night to even the first-round series at one game apiece.
"We had a lot of adversity before this game with two of our top centres out," Doughty said. "I guess a lot of people didn't think we had a chance tonight. I guess we showed those people wrong. We played a hard, solid team game. That's what wins you playoff games."
Jack Johnson and Kyle Clifford also scored for the Kings, who bounced back from an overtime loss in Game 1 despite being without injured Anze Kopitar and suspended Jarret Stoll.
The Sharks took too many undisciplined penalties and were unable to generate many good offensive chances against Quick, drawing the ire of their usually supportive fans who booed the home team sporadically throughout the game. Antti Niemi allowed the four goals on 23 shots to lose for the first time in four postseason starts at the Shark Tank.
"Overall our battle-level just wasn't that high tonight," forward Ryane Clowe said. "They really played a pretty desperate game tonight. We didn't have a lot of hunger around the net."
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The Kings came into the game reeling a bit, having lost the opener 3-2 and then having Stoll suspended for a hit from behind on Sharks defenceman Ian White in Game 1.
But Joe Thornton and the rest of the Sharks were unable to take advantage and San Jose was shut out in the playoffs for the first time since an overtime loss at Colorado in Game 3 of the first round to Craig Anderson and the Avalanche last season.
"They were a much more competitive team than we were tonight," coach Todd McLellan said. "When you are along the boards you have to compete as hard as they do. We weren't the better team tonight."
Quick did a good job stopping the initial shots by San Jose and gave the Sharks few rebound opportunities. The shutout by Quick was the first in the postseason for the Kings since Felix Potvin beat Colorado 1-0 in Game 5 of the first round in 2002 and the sixth in franchise history.
"We had a big effort from everyone in the locker room," Quick said. "At the end of the day, it's just one win. We need three more to move on. We're looking forward to Game 3 and looking forward to getting the same result."
Coach Terry Murray knew it would take contributions from many players for the absence of Stoll and Kopitar. Murray got that from Quick and a pair of talented, young defencemen who were inconsistent at times this season who came up with the biggest plays.
Johnson and Doughty each scored power-play goals in the first period and the Kings took control when Doughty blasted a forehand from just inside the blue line through a screen and past Niemi to make it 3-0 with 4:18 left in the second period.
Doughty became the first Los Angeles defenceman to score two goals in a playoff game since Hall of Famer Paul Coffey did it against Edmonton twice in 1992.
"The key guys that you need to step up played as hard as they could," Murray said. "Whenever you need something big to happen like we did tonight because of the adversity we faced, the key guys have to step up and Doughty has always showed that ability to make the play at the right time, to step up, to try to be assertive and get things turned around if necessary."
Clifford added a goal early in the third period, shortly after the Kings killed off a power-play chance for San Jose.
After scoring just one power-play goal in the final seven regular season games, the Kings struck twice on the man advantage in the opening period after a pair of offensive zone penalties on the Sharks. Both times, the player who drew the penalty, responded with the goal in the ultimate form of payback.
The first undisciplined play came when Ben Eager slashed Johnson in a retaliatory move. Johnson capitalized with a blast from the point through a screen by Ryan Smyth to beat Niemi for his first career postseason goal.
Just a few minutes later, Clowe was called for elbowing Doughty, who responded with a blast from the high slot that gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with 4:17 remaining in the period.
"We had dumb penalties in the first," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "We saw them all and the replay on all of them and they were all pretty stupid. Whether it's being too pumped up or not, you have to control your emotions out there. Two power-play goals, that isn't very good."