In a game that was supposed to be an ode to Northern California, the Los Angeles Kings showed the San Jose Sharks that SoCal still rules hockey in the Golden State.
Marian Gaborik blasted the game winner past Antti Niemi at the 4:04 mark of the third period in the Kings’ 2-1 victory over their in-state rival in Saturday’s Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in front of an announced crowd of 70,205.
“We’re just on the road, we’re playing our game. You have to keep it up,” Gaborik said in a postgame interview with NBC Sports.
The contest was arguably the biggest outdoor game in the NHL’s history in regards to postseason implications. The Kings and Sharks are pushing for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. And typically over the last two years the Kings and Sharks have both been major nemeses. The Kings have eliminated the Sharks the last two postseasons.
Los Angeles tied the Sharks at 68 points with the win, though L.A. has played three fewer games. San Jose has won just three games in the month of February while the Kings have won seven in a row.
And it appears in big moments, the Kings still own the Sharks.
The game, which included an intermisison musical act by NorCal native John Fogerty, was closely contested for the most part as the weather and ice surface held up. The game was 57 degrees at puck drop inside Levi's Stadium, which included makeshift shark pools.
Kings forward Kyle Clifford put the game at 1-0 with a tip-in off a Jake Muzzin shot at the 2:46 mark of the first period.
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns knotted the game at 1-1 at the 18:56 mark when he fired a shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
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