Two late goals give Kings 2-0 series edge

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


LOS ANGELES -- When push came to shove, the Los Angeles Kings reared back and threw a haymaker.
The result was two goals in less than a minute late in the third period, the Kings racing back from a one-goal deficit to record a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
It was wild. I was crazy. It was the NHL playoffs at its best.
And it was the Kings reaching back and delivering a devastating blow.
"We found a way," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "You know what, the power play was on, we've been talking about it, we've been getting good looks and good opportunities and not finishing, and we got it from different guys, quite honestly."
Trailing 3-2 with less than two minutes remaining, the Kings got a tying goal from Dustin Brown at the 18:17 mark to knot it at 3-3.
With Staples Center rocking, Trevor Lewis scored 22 seconds later to put the Kings up 4-3. Both goals came on the power play.
"We played well," San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. "We just didn't win. We thought we deserved a better fate, but that's playoff hockey. They did their job. They got two at home. Now we have to go home and do our job.
"You get in penalty trouble later on, it happens, but now we have to get the job done at home.
Said Sharks forward Joe Pavelski: "It's a tough loss regardless; we know we can break through. We have done it before. We know we're going to get our chances, and we did, and we could have had another one. It was just a tough way to lose it.
"We have to get rid of it quick and take a lot of good things out of it. We played them hard, and we felt like we carried the pace for most of it. They are a good team, obviously, they found a way tonight. It's tough to lose on a 5-on-3 so late and then give up another one quick. Take it in and move on. It will be nice to go home."
The Kings' late goals came after Marc-Edouard Vlasic put the Sharks up 3-2 at 8:56 of the third.
The Sharks helped Los Angeles by taking two untimely penalties. Brad Stuart was penalized for tripping at 17:19, and Vlasic was called for delaying the game 22 seconds later.
The Kings who made them pay.
"It was huge. Power play got it done in the end when we needed it most," Lewis said. "We got some work to do and clean things up, but it's a big win for us."
Kings center Anze Kopitar agreed -- San Jose presented an opportunity, and Los Angeles took it.
"But that's what happens if you put pressure on them," Kopitar said. "Last five minutes was good. We were in there and we were cycling the puck a lot, but again, we got to do that for 55 minutes before that."
The Sharks erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring twice in the second period ahead of Vlasic's tiebreaking goal.
The Kings took a 2-0 lead on goals by Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty, and with goalie Jonathan Quick playing as well as he has, that seemed like an insurmountable lead.
Underneath it all, though, was the reality the Sharks were outplaying the Kings, at least in terms of offensive activity, as they peppered Quick with shots.
Quick has a breaking point, and that arrived in the form of goals by Patrick Marleau and Stuart to tie the game 2-2 in the second period.
That ultimately led to the Sharks taking the lead, and for most of the third period, the likelihood the series would head to San Jose on Saturday tied at 1-1.
However, the Kings reared back and threw their biggest punch of the playoffs, and in the process took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Quick finished with 28 saves. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots.
"I liked our game. We'll meet tomorrow at the rink and I'll tell our team that." San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "The thing I like about our team, maybe in the past this would have bothered our team more, but with the group of guys we have, I think we can recover from this.
"I think we can get out and play hard again. We'll take our chances just like we did tonight. There are a few areas we need to clean up, but guys played their hearts out. But again, like I said after Game 1, that doesn't get you wins in the playoffs. Scoring more than the other team does, and we're going to have to do that."
NOTES: In a move that surprised virtually no one, Sharks LW Raffi Torres was suspended Thursday for the remainder of the series for the vicious hit he delivered to Kings C Jarret Stoll in Game 1. The hit knocked Stoll out of the game -- and perhaps for an extended period -- and considering the nature of the injury and Torres' checkered past with questionable hits, the league doled out a harsh penalty. Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's director of player safety, announced the decision and cited Torres' apparent head-hunting on the play as a reason for the stiff punishment. ... Torres has a long history with the league, serving three suspensions for illegal hits, including a 21-game suspension last year when he took out Chicago RW Marian Hossa with a hit to the head that resulted in Hossa suffering a concussion. ... Stoll's spot at center on the third line went to Brad Richardson, who's been the victim of the Kings' deep depth at center. Richardson played in just 16 games while scoring six points during regular season. Before Thursday, he'd played in one game in the playoffs, against St. Louis in the first round. Now he might play a prominent role against a deep Sharks team that can roll out Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Scott Gomez and Joe Pavelski at center. "Hey, you want him to take advantage of (the opportunity)" Sutter said. "He has to play well for us. It's not easy, quite honest, when you look at San Jose's four centermen."