LOS ANGELES – And we’re even.
A trio of third period goals lifted the Kings to a 4-1 win Monday night, knotting this series with the Sharks, forcing a Game 7 to be played Wednesday night in San Jose.
For the Kings, it’s been a magical comeback, albeit yet not fully completed.
After dropping the opening three games of this series, the Kings have staved off elimination three straight times, putting the Sharks on their heels heading into Wednesday’s series-deciding contest.
The Sharks threw a new goaltender, Alex Stalock, at the Kings Monday, but it had little effect on their bustling offense, which has scored 13 goals on the Sharks in the previous three games of this series.
Justin Williams, who potted a pair of markers in the Kings’ Game 5 win Saturday night, punched home the first goal for the Kings Monday night.
With an opening in the neutral zone, Drew Doughty entered San Jose’s zone with ease, settled down with the puck low along the side boards, and fed Justin Williams, who streaked by Joe Pavelski’s coverage, with a pass he knocked past Alex Stalock to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 5:39 into the contest.
The Kings took that 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but their troubles would come in the second period.
A string of three minor penalties in a 3:37 span put the Kings on heavy penalty-kill duty for the majority of the first half of the middle frame.
The Kings were successful in nixing all three of San Jose’s power plays, including a 5-on-3 advantage, but found themselves fatigued after the matter, as the Sharks continued to try and build momentum.
:32 seconds after the Kings evaded the Sharks’ flurry of power play chances, San Jose found the net during even strength play.
James Sheppard deflected a James Braun shot high atop the crease and past Jonathan Quick, tying the score 1-1 with 7:34 to play in the second period.
The Kings could only muster five shots on Stalock in the middle frame, and were fortunate to take a tie score into the third and final period.
And that’s when the Kings came alive.
After a rather tightly played opening to the third, the Kings opened up in a frenzy, as Justin Williams buried his second goal of the night, shoveling a puck past Alex Stalock after Robyn Regehr initiated the play with a wrist shot on net.
The puck his behind Stalock’s pads, but before the whistle was blown, the force of the scrum in front of Stalock pushed him back, along with the puck that was sitting freely behind him.
Just over a minute and a half after Williams’ goal gave the Kings the lead, Anze Kopitar slammed home the third goal of the night, following up on an odd-man rush, pounding home a juicy rebound past Stalock to give the Kings a 3-1 lead with 6:33 to play.
After San Jose’s Tommy Wingels was called for a hooking infraction, Kopitar went to work again, burying a rebound on Alex Stalock’s back-door, giving the Kings a 4-1 lead with 5:18 left to play in the third period, the night’s eventual final score.
With the win tonight, the Kings have become only the 9th NHL team out of 176 to force a Game 7 after trailing 0-3 in a playoff series.
Jonathan Quick, picking up his third straight win, stopped 25 of San Jose’s 26 shots.
The Kings will head to San Jose Tuesday for Game 7, which is scheduled for 7:00 PM PST Wednesday night at the SAP Center.