The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings may have clinched a playoff spot well before Thursday's game ended, but they certainly didn't play like it. It was a hard-fought battle right to the final horn and then some, with the Sharks narrowly edging their divisional rivals 6-5 in a shootout.
But don't let the high score fool you into thinking there weren't any big defensive plays. Why, Ryane Clowe's pokecheck on Jarrett Stoll with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd period stands out, and not just because it broke up a very threatening-looking 3-on-2 rush and potentially saved a game-winning goal. It was also the fact that Clowe was on the bench at the time:
Two things: First, this is the best use of waving red arrows in the history of waving red arrows. Second, let no one ever again claim the Sharks don't do what it takes to win. Ryane Clowe straight up cheats. Not since Wacky Races have I seen such dastardly behavior.
When asked about the play, Clowe responded, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Needless to say, Stoll was shocked, gesticulating to the officials the moment he was separated from the puck. This should have been a two-minute minor. But almost as shocking as Clowe's bench pokecheck was the fact that all four officials managed to miss it.
The pokecheck may very well loom large. Had the Kings scored there or on the powerplay and gone on to win the game in regulation, they would have clinched the Pacific Division title. Instead, the game headed to overtime and then a shootout, where it was won by the Sharks.
Said Kings governor Tim Leiweke, "It's a shame that a guy can cheat and get away with it in a game this important.''
Now both teams are tied at 94 points apiece with one game remaining.
That game is a rematch between the two teams Saturday. It should be a much tighter game than the one on Thursday night, especially considering it's now apparently legal to stickcheck from the bench.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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