LOS ANGELES -- The talking point in the San Jose Sharks' dressing room was the game-winning goal, but forward Logan Couture and coach Todd McLellan eventually broke it down further by talking about the breakdown.
San Jose imploded after Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams scored at 11:56 of the third period, a controversial goal in which Williams whacked at a loose puck and pushed it through the pads of Sharks goalie Alex Stalock. It held up as the game-winner in a 4-1 Kings victory Monday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series at Staples Center.
The Kings subsequently put the game away with two goals by Anze Kopitar in a span of 2:15 to force Game 7 on Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS, NBCSN, PRIME, CSN-CA). Los Angeles scored three goals on four shots, beginning with the Williams goal, and San Jose had no response.
"You see they scored the third and fourth [goals], bang-bang," Couture said. "We'll look at it. Like I said, I've seen it a couple of times. I don't think it should have counted. It's up to the team, the leaders, the coaching staff, to regroup after a goal like that, which we didn't, which is disappointing. But [we'll] move on, move past it. I mean, 3-3, in a series. They're a great team. We're a good team. I think all the outsiders picked this one to go seven, and it is. Here we go."
McLellan heavily criticized the call on the Williams goal and said, "We got cheated. Simple as that."
He also faulted his team for not recovering from a 2-1 deficit.
"Obviously we didn't respond very well," McLellan said. "At that point, with seven minutes left, you open it up a little bit, and two or three shifts later we're caught pinching. We give up an outnumbered rush. It's not completely over, but it's looking pretty gloom. They're a tough team to play against when they have the lead, and you try to open it up and they make you pay for it. You've got to play even or you've got to play ahead. Our take-home value of it will be to that seven or six-minute mark. After the goal, we'll call it … we have to respond better."
McLellan and the Sharks argued that Stalock had the puck secured under his pad and that Stalock was pushed by Williams. McLellan said he was told by officials that the puck was lying behind Stalock's feet the whole time and therefore didn't warrant a whistle.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the first thing he saw was an official pointing to the net to signal a goal.
The NHL's Situation Room ruled the following:
"At 11:56 of the third period in the San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the San Jose net. Video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the puck entered the net in a legal fashion. Good goal Los Angeles."
Asked if he thought he was pushed, Stalock said, "I think I did, but I guess that's up to your decision on what you saw, but I don't think the puck goes in if I don't get pushed in. I don't think the puck was rolling. It was still, so something had to be done for the puck to move into the net."
The Sharks have scored one goal in the past two games. If it wasn't for Patrick Marleau's slow-motion overtime goal in Game 3, the Kings would have wrapped up the series.
McLellan said he's not surprised his team is in this position.
"If we go back, we can go back and talk about the expectation of the series to be very tight-checking," he said. "I think the biggest change is they got rid of their sloppy play and got back to playing their type of game. It's a tough type of game to beat for us, and we'll have to do a better job in Game 7."
Stalock otherwise was solid in his first career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and McLellan sounded as though he wouldn't hesitate to put him back in for Game 7.
But, San Jose must regroup after a go-ahead goal left it completely undone.
"Same thing we've done for the first six [games]," Stalock said. "You go back and look at the tape and see what we need to do and make some adjustments. Really, it's just another game. It's a Game 7, but it's time we get it done."