LOS ANGELES – For over a week the San Jose Sharks have said this is a different group than the one that blew a 3-0 lead to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Even as the Sharks continued to pour goals on the Kings and hold Los Angeles’ big weapons off the scoresheet there was always some belief the Kings would come back.
This never happened.
The Sharks took it to Los Angeles early and held on after a furious goal filled second period by the Kings, beating Los Angeles 6-3 to advance to the second round. The Sharks will play the winner of the series between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks.
Just 3:58 into the third period, Joonas Donskoi went around Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for his second goal of the game to put the score at 4-3.
The Sharks added one more for good measure with 7:38 left when Joe Pavelski fired a shot through Jonathan Quick's five-hole to put the game at 5-3 in favor of San Jose.
Donskoi got his first 1:08 into the first period when he backed down the Kings defense and fired a toe-drag wrist shot past Quick to put the score at 1-0.
Midway through the first, Sharks forward Chris Tierney also moved LA’s defense backwards and blasted a shot past Quick from around the same location on the ice as Donskoi for his goal. At the start of the second period the Sharks onslaught continued. Just 4:05 into the frame, San Jose forward Matt Nieto scored in front off a feed from Joel Ward to put the game at 3-0.
At that point the crowd of 18,514 at Staples Center was whisper quiet. The only loud noises for the Kings were boos near the end of the first. Then LA's mini-comeback began.
With 14:29 left in the second Sharks forward Patrick Marleau missed on a penalty shot, softly backhanding it into Quick. From that moment on it was all Kings for the rest of the frame.
With 12:16 left in the second a puck deflected off the leg of Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar to make it 3-1. With 8:34 left in the frame, forward Jeff Carter was left wide open in front of the Sharks net and roofed a shot over San Jose goaltender Martin Jones to make the game 3-2.
Then with 3:24 left in the second, Kris Versteeg corralled a Kyle Clifford rebound to knot the game at 3-3.
It hurt the Sharks briefly, but wasn't enough to slow down San Jose in the third period as the group didn't fold and continued to fight back against LA. In their last two playoff meetings the Kings eliminated the Sharks in seven games.
Now, it's the Sharks who finally move on.
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