LOS ANGELES—A fight to the end failed to go LA’s way as an overtime game winner by San Jose gave them the opportunity for a sweep. Patrick Marleau’s backhander that flew past LA netminder Jonathan Quick gave the Sharks a 4-3 win over the Kings on Tuesday night.
Down 2-0 in the series and being outscored 13-5 is an embarrassment the Kings want to put behind them. The Sharks had something to say about that and in the first three minutes while on the power play, Captain Joe Thornton made it the opening lead as his shot deflected off the stick of Brent Burns in the crease for Burn’s second of the playoffs. Despite being down so soon, the Kings stayed close to playing a more even strength game than the last two. Hits were dealt out and fights for the puck ensued from the Kings top five, but after 20 minutes the score remained a 1-0 deficit with time to make the night count.
Los Angeles made the start of the second period theirs to win as the puck began to roll right for the Kings charging into the Sharks end giving Antti Niemi a problem early on. On their third man advantage, Jarret Stoll rifled a shot that went over the shoulder of the Sharks goaltender to even the game and send the right energy to the bench and to the fans in the arena elated to see the Kings in action.
The Kings offense took another step at going for the lead and caught a break where a 3 on 2 saw Marian Gaborik putting into another gear and getting ahead of the pack to send a backhander and notch his first of the series and the 19th of his career. San Jose later caught the Kings defense snoozing where Matt Nieto got credit for a tip in on Jason Demer’s drive from the far end where the puck bounced off the ice hitting the stick of Nieto. The Kings spent the last three minutes trying to get the lead before the end of the period where a two shot play nearly caught Niemi off guard, but the puck went low enough for him to make the save. The same went for the final play as Niemi again denied any cheap attempts from the Kings.
With the Kings desperate to win a game on the Sharks, Anze Kopitar began a play from their end where he found Jeff Carter in the crease setting up a screen on Niemi near the crease leaving Kopitar to use his teammate as a target to misdirect the shot and put it behind the net. It was just their second time in this series where they held the lead, but the Sharks weren’t out of it. Quick saw his biggest challenge coming as the Sharks began to roll on the offense hard delivering shots from all angles in order to force another take over and beat the Kings. Their time came midway into the third where Marc-Edouard Vlassic began the shooting rampage on a shot that was stopped in the crease, but as Quick began to clear it out, the Sharks pounced on stealing it out and shooting it as Tomas Hertl pulled off to gain his second and tie the game at three.
The Sharks put everything on the line in the remaining minutes bringing all efforts in the Kings zone to force another goal if it was the last thing they could do on the night. Quick had something to say as he had enough of being beaten around by the San Jose offense and with time on his side, the LA netminder did well to bring the game to an end, but would have to see another 20 minutes. The Sharks took a total of 23 shots on the net with Quick and the Kings stopping 22.
It all came down to the extra time allowed in the playoffs and only one came out of this one. The Kings have been the fighting kind during the season put after a shoddy start to the postseason their vulnerability would show. The Sharks fed off the current situation and ran circles around the Kings who were also trying to fight for a victory while at home. Mike Richards slid the puck into the Sharks end with four defensemen surrounding him. He made the pass to Gaborik who wasn’t being suffocated by the Sharks firing a shot high that was stopped by Niemi and knocked away.
All their efforts went quiet in the sixth minute as the Sharks held the ice where Marleau pulled off a backhander in front of the net where it took a redirect on its own completely misguiding Quick and going over him to become the game winning goal. Marleau’s third of the playoffs completely stunned the crowd at Staples Center sending a dark mood over the ice.
The Kings have only once come back from a 3-1 deficit in 1989 againstEdmonton to win the series. Only three teams in NHL history have come from a 0-3 look in the series to win four straight. The last team to do so was the Boston Bruins last year, but with the Kings a lower seed in the conference, chances are still possible. Game four takes place Thursday night.