CLIFFORD SCORING FOR KINGS
Kyle Clifford had a season to remember for the Los Angeles Kings. The former Colts forward was widely expected to return to Barrie at the start of the season, to the team he helped get to the Ontario Hockey League Finals one year ago.
This season Clifford is once again a large part of the post-season, this time around for the Los Angeles Kings, who drafted the Ayr, Ontario native with the 35th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The Kings have been a nice surprise in their first round tilt with the heavily favoured San Jose Sharks. After taking the Sharks to overtime in game one of the series, the Kings posted a shut-out in San Jose and tied the series at one game each heading back to LA.
Overtime would once again prove to be necessary as the Sharks came all the way back from a 4-0 deficit and beat the Kings 6-5 just over three minutes in to the first extra session in game three.
The Sharks stunning game three win could prove to be too much for the young Kings to overcome, who are already playing without arguably their best player, Anze Kopitar.
The Kopitar injury has given Clifford a chance to spend time on the Kings third line with Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson. A spot he is somewhat comfortable with after the trio was formed late in the regular season.
Through his first three post-season games Clifford was on a point-a-game pace and sat tied for second in team scoring.
The physical winger was held scoreless in his first ever NHL post-season game, but did engage with Ben Eager in a lengthy first-period scrap.
In game two the Kings came out with a completely different identity and controlled the game from start to finish, ending with a 4-0 shut-out.
Clifford collected his first ever playoff point with an assist on Drew Doughty’s second period goal, and would then score a goal of his own in the third to finish the game with a goal and an assist.
As the series switched to LA the number seven seeded Kings were poised to take a series lead after jumping out to an early lead. LA scored twice in 13 seconds early in the first and held a 3-0 advantage after 20 minutes.
Willie Mitchell scored at 2:26 to grant the Kings a 1-0 lead and then it was Clifford scoring his second goal in as many games as he tipped in a back-hand shot from line-mates Richardson and Simmonds.
After increasing their lead to 4-0 in the second period the Kings would falter and allow five second period goals by the Sharks, making it 5-5 after the second period.
A scoreless third period would send this game to overtime for the second time in three games, and the Sharks would end it early on a Devin Setoguchi goal.
A 6-3 San Jose victory in game four would give the Sharks three straight games to eliminate the feisty Kings. In Game five Clifford would once again make an impact playing on his home ice. Just 3:36 in to the game Clifford perfectly tipped a point shot that would bounce off of Wayne Simmonds and in to the Sharks goal to make it 1-0. Clifford picked up the first assist.
Not even four minutes later Simmonds fired a shot on a 2-1 with the big rebound coming right to Clifford who hammered home his third of the playoffs. That goal would prove to be the game-winner as the Kings pushed the series to game six.
Overtime was needed for the third time in this series as game six was tied at three after regulation. Joe Thornton scored the game-winner in the first overtime to eliminate the Kings in six games.
Clifford finishes his first ever post-season series with three goals and two assists in six games, after tallying seven goals and seven assists in 76 regular season contests. He finished tied for the post-season team-lead in goals and points.