SAN JOSE, Calif. – Three quick goals and the sensational goaltending of Jonathan Quick were more than enough Saturday night for the Los Angeles Kings to keep their season alive.
The Kings scored three times in the first nine minutes and Quick made a playoff franchise-record 51 saves at HP Pavilion in a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks to stave off elimination in the Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
The victory cut the Sharks' lead in the series to 3-2 and now it heads back to Los Angeles on Monday night at the Staples Center, where the Kings will have the opportunity to even matters and force a Game 7.
"All that matters is that we get to play another game," Quick said. "We're focused on Game 6 right now. That's all we're worried about right here."
Quick said he wasn't angry and wasn't trying to prove anything to anyone after getting burned for six goals in each of the two previous games.
"You just forget about it," he said. "You move on. It doesn't matter how many goals are scored in one game. It's a clean slate, so you start over. Not too many emotions go in. You just try and be even keeled and make the saves and help the team win.
"At times you get lucky and the puck hits you. You find yourself in the right place at the right time. That was the case a few times where it hits your pad instead of going off the post like it was the past couple nights. It was a solid team effort."
The Kings stunned the Sharks and what had been a raucous crowd by scoring on three of their first four shots to grab a 3-0 lead and chase starting goalie Antti Niemi.
The Sharks got one back at 5:43 of the second period to pull within 3-1 when Patrick Marleau jammed the puck by Quick's right skate and they had three more chances to creep closer with power plays but couldn't convert.
The Kings killed all four of the Sharks' power plays Saturday and they have snuffed out 18 of 20 in the series.
Kings coach Terry Murray elected to change three of his four line combinations, but the Kyle Clifford-Brad Richardson-Wayne Simmonds unit remained intact and produced the first two goals.
Simmonds tipped defenseman Rob Scuderi's point shot into the net at 3:36 on the Kings' first shot and Clifford knocked a rebound into a wide-open net at 7:14 after Niemi got his glove on Simmonds' shot on a 2-on-1 rush following a Sharks turnover.
Simmonds and his linemates have combined for six goals and seven assists in the series.
"I just think we read off each other really well," Simmonds said of his line. "All three of us are fast guys and we're not afraid to go into the dirty areas and we're getting goals as a result of it."
The trio has been especially impressive because they are so young and basically unsung. Richardson is the oldest at 26, while Simmonds is 22 and Clifford is a 20-year-old rookie.
"They're young, they're energized and they're enthusiastic," Murray said. "They really like to play with each other. It's been a good series for them so far. They have my trust. I put them out there against any line. It was a solid game by them and it's great to see your young guys step up in a pressure situation like this."
Veteran winger Dustin Penner hasn't had the kind of series he'd like, but he did beat Niemi to the glove side with a long blast at 8:42 of the opening period for his first goal since March 13 and the 3-0 lead.
That's when Sharks coach Todd McLellan pulled Niemi in favor of Antero Niittymaki for the second time in three games.
McLellan said after the game that Niemi couldn't be faulted for the first two goals, but that he was too deep in his net when Penner scored.
"I was going to make a change and I wasn't going to change 18 other guys, so that left the goalie," McLellan said. He added that he and his staff would discuss the goalie situation for Game 6.
Murray has no such quandary.
"There were about a dozen good scoring chances where the goaltender came up big," Murray said of Quick. "But you know what? When you get into this time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, your goaltender is going to have to win you a game. It's not any big deal; it's been going on for 50 years. This is the way it is and now we've got to bounce back in front of him. We've got to be better for him next game."
Quick surely can't play any better.
"He's been lights out for us all year," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "A game like this, coming up here where they have all the momentum … we needed a big effort out of him and he did it tonight."
Told that Quick had set a team record for saves, Greene said: "Let's hope so. If not, that other guy deserves a real pat on the back. That was awesome. He played huge for us."