Sharks center Joe Pavelski scores against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
SAN JOSE -- Kings Coach Darryl Sutter started off his morning session with reporters here by saying he was thinking more about next week's events than Saturday's regular-season finale.
Then he proved it.
Sutter, cagily, found a way to issue a motivational (playoff) challenge for his No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick, who has received a ton of recent and well-deserved notice as a potential Vezina Trophy winner with 35 victories and a goals-against average of 1.93.
It started with discussion about Quick's rare minor penalty, for interference late in the second period with the Kings leading 3-1, causing a massive momentum swing when the Sharks scored on the ensuing power play. The Sharks beat the Kings, 6-5, in a shootout Thursday.
"He didn't play very well, so he was probably frustrated with his own performance," Sutter said after the Kings' optional morning skate. "
Then Sutter started talking about Sharks' Antti Niemi, who won a Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Blackhawks, becoming the first Finnish goalie to win the Stanley Cup.
"It's a big challenge," Sutter said. "When you play San Jose, San Jose has a goaltender [Niemi] that's won a Stanley Cup and quietly goes about his business and doesn't get much credit, just criticism. And we have one [Quick] that gets a lot of credit."
Too much credit?
"I'm not getting into that because I know what happens when you answer those questions," Sutter said. "You have to prove it, right? That's what it's about."
Sutter was reminded that Neimi let in five goals against the Kings.
"He won the game," Sutter said. "Tony Esposito had 15 shutouts in his rookie year and he said the best goalies in the league can win you 7-5 games. And he was right. It's a sign of a great goaltender. Look at all the great teams that have won Stanley Cups. You look at those Edmonton teams and Islander teams.
"Look at the goalie tonight that played on the Chicago Blackhawks. Lots of big saves when you needed 'em. It's not an opinion. It's a fact. There's proof."
Let the Motivational Games begin.
NHL says Ryane Clowe's play was missed infraction
Coyotes' win damages the Kings' division title hopes
Helene Elliott: No win, but the Kings are in the playoffs
Sutter, looking to playoffs, moves to motivate Jonathan Quick