SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will need a Game 7 to decide this series.
San Jose played an air-tight third period, permitting eight shots on goal, to hold on for a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles in Game 6 on Sunday, tying the Western Conference semifinal series at three wins apiece.
"I see it as a pretty even game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of a Game 7. "No matter how high we elevate our game they're right there. And I don't see it changing for Game 7."
The Sharks hope to be the first road team to win a game in this series on Tuesday and advance to their third Western Conference Finals in four seasons. San Jose is 5-2 all-time in deciding games of a series that goes to the limit. Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup champions have been pushed to the brink of elimination for the first time in two years.
"Every game has been close," Kings defenseman Rob Scruderi said. "Every game except Game 5 has been closely decided, closely contested. It's not a shock it has come to (a Game) 7. I'm sure both teams didn't want it to come to this point but here we are. We just have to win one."
The Sharks took a one-goal lead into the third period after each team scored a goal in the middle session. Press as they might, the Kings weren't able to generate the tying goal with their eight shots on net in the final period.
"I guess you never want to use the word 'protect,' then you end up on your heels instead of your toes, but I thought we played a solid third period and took some of their strengths away from them," McLellan said.
San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead at 4:10 of the second period when T.J. Galiardi scored his first goal of the postseason with a shot from the right circle that beat challenging Kings goalie Jonathan Quick low to the glove side. Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan made a nice backhand feed through center to Galiardi, just eluding the stick of Kings forward Kyle Clifford.
"He's kept his confidence -- just keep shooting and it'll go in," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of the advice he gave his linemate.
But the Kings answered at 13:53 when captain Dustin Brown beat Antti Niemi from behind the goal line with a shot that ricocheted off of the San Jose goalie. The scoring sequence started when San Jose's Tommy Wingels blocked Matt Greene's point shot to the corner.
The Sharks failed to convert a double-minor midway through that period after Los Angeles' Justin Williams high-sticked San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The hosts managed only two shots late in the second of consecutive 5-on-4s.
The Sharks scored the only goal of a first period that started better than it ended for the hosts.
San Jose converted a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 6:09 when Joe Pavelski found Thornton on the weakside for the captain's second goal of the playoffs 71 seconds into Anze Kopitar's delay-of-game penalty.
"They won the special teams battle," Kopitar said. "We took too many penalties again. The one 5-on-3 cost us. It's clearly up to me to not fire the puck over the glass."
Mike Richards had hooked Brent Burns 14 seconds earlier as the Sharks earned three power plays in the opening five minutes and snapped the shutout streak at 102:14 for Quick, who shut out San Jose in Game 5.
"The power play was the difference tonight," McLellan said. "We want to maintain the momentum through the power plays and not lose it. We'll have to be better in Game 7."
But the ice tilted for the remainder of the period, and it probably had a lot to do with the loss of Sharks' defenseman Justin Braun at 3:58 to cut San Jose's blue line personnel to five skaters rotating different partners with each shift.
Braun went down on his own moments after stepping on the ice for his second shift of the game. Braun returned at the start of the second period.
"Back seized up a little bit, but got back out there," Braun said. "It probably looked like I died out there."
The Sharks mustered the first eight shots of the first period, but went without any rubber on Quick for the final 12:56 of the period while the Kings put the final eight shots of the period on Niemi, who was tested by L.A.'s swarming forwards.
Niemi spearheaded two penalty kills and got some help from the crossbar, which stopped two shots. Niemi robbed Trevor Lewis twice at mid-period on the Kings' first power play and made a right-pad save on Clifford late in the period at even strength.
"Both goaltenders in this series have been tremendous," McLellan said. "I thought Nemo was very solid. He's a calming influence for us. Any time we made mistakes he was there, he settled things down and got us whistles that we needed. Very seldom is that talked about. He was very good at managing the game from the crease."
NOTES: Sharks grinder Adam Burish returned to the lineup for the first time in the series, playing right wing on the fourth line. Burish missed the first five games after getting slashed in Game 4 against the Vancouver Canucks in Round 1. Originally he was ruled out of the series, but he returned faster than expected. F Martin Havlat remains out with a lower-body injury. D Jason Demers, D Matt Tennyson and F Tim Kennedy were healthy scratches. ... Injured Kings F Jarret Stoll skated lightly the last three days, but he continues to feel the effects of Raffi Torres' series-ending hit in Game 1 that earned the San Jose forward a suspension for the remainder of the series. ... The Kings made one change for Game 6, as Jordan Nolan replaced Tyler Toffoli on a checking line. Nolan was a healthy scratch since appearing in the first two games, while Toffoli dressed for each of the first five. ... San Jose is 5-14 all-time in Game 6 and 2-4 at home.