Sharks push Kings to brink with overtime win
San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi celebrates with teammates after defeating the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, April 22, 2014. (KIRBY LEE/USA Today)
A blend of youth and experience powered the San Jose Sharks to the brink of a sweep of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings.
After two rookies helped the Sharks forge a third-period tie, one of the team’s trusted veterans pushed the Kings to the point of elimination.
Winger Patrick Marleau scored at 6:20 of overtime and goaltender Antti Niemi made 28 saves as the Sharks defeated the Kings 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Marleau took possession off a turnover and backhanded a shot toward the Los Angeles net that deflected off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s stick and past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The win gave the Sharks a commanding 3-0 series lead with a possible Game 4 clincher in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“The Kings played well. It was their best game this series,” Sharks centre Logan Couture said. “We matched them goal for goal, and then we got a good goal from Patty at the end there.”
With Couture and Joe Pavelski kept off the scoresheet, wingers Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto stepped up and kept the Sharks in the game against a desperate Los Angeles team.
“Nieto gives us speed and Hertl gives us tenacity around the net,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We really do not consider them rookies at this point of the season.”
In a series that was thought to be a toss-up, San Jose found different ways to win the first three games of the series. Its explosive offense was featured in Games 1 and 2 in San Jose and Tuesday night a grinding third period that saw it outshoot Los Angeles 23-8 eventually wore down the Kings.
“I mean, there were times in the first two game where we had momentum,” Quick said. “We just need to keep working and win a game. It doesn’t matter yet, up three or down three.”
Though the Kings got two power play goals and the first goal of the series by winger Marian Gaborik, their inability to hold the lead in the third period was the deciding factor. They took three minor penalties with one indirectly leading to the tying goal.
“There were times in the first two game where we had momentum,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We just need to keep working and win a game, It doesn’t matter yet, up three or down three.”
With the score tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, winger Jeff Carter gave the Kings the lead 51 seconds into the third period with his first goal of the series on the power play. Centre Anze Kopitar took a wrist shot from the right boards and Carter was positioned to the left of Niemi to deflect the puck home.
The Sharks forged the third tie of the game when winger Tomas Hertl converted his own rebound at 9:17 as a penalty to Kings defenseman Alec Martinez was expiring to set the stage for overtime. Hertl’s second goal of the series was assisted by winger Tommy Wingels and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
San Jose opened the scoring at 3:16 of the first period on a power-play goal by winger Brent Burns. Centre Joe Thornton fed Burns and his wrist shot from 42 feet deflected off Kings winger Trevor Lewis past Quick for his second goal of the series with defenseman Dan Boyle drawing the secondary assist.
The Kings evened the score with a power-play goal of their own at 4:48 of the second period. Centre Jarret Stoll converted a cross-ice pass from winger Tyler Toffoli for his first goal of the series with defenseman Drew Doughty drawing an assist.
The Kings took their first lead of the game on Gaborik’s first goal of the playoffs at 7:59 of the second period. Gaborik took possession in the Kings defensive zone and went end to end to finish a three-on-two rush.
The Sharks rallied to tie the score just 1:18 later on rookie winger Matt Nieto’s first goal of the series. Nieto was positioned in the slot to deflect a shot by defenseman Jason Demers at 9:17, with Marleau drawing the secondary assist.
Sharks LW Patrick Marleau was announced as one of the finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy along with Rangers RW Martin St. Louis and Avalanche C Ryan O’Reilly. The Byng is awarded to the player who is “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The winner will be named at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 24. ... San Jose scratched RW Marty Havlat, RW Adam Burish, C Bracken Kearns, D Mirco Mueller, RW Matt Pelech, D Matt Irwin, C Ttavis Oleksuk, D Dylan Demelo, C Freddie Hamilton, RW Eriah Hayes, D Taylor Doherty, D Matt Tennyson, C Tyler Kennedy, G Troy Grosenick and G Harri Sateri. ... Marleau and C Joe Thornton reached 100 career postseason points. ... The Kings recalled C Colin Fraser from their Manchester AHL affiliate. ... Los Angeles did not dress D Matt Greene, LW Kyle Clifford and C Colin Fraser. ... The Kings are 2-10 all time when trailing 0-2 in a postseason series. They executed comebacks against Detroit in 2001 and St. Louis in 2013.