SAN JOSE, Calif.
– The "race to three" has become a catch phrase for San Jose Sharks
coach Todd McLellan, who believes the first team to produce three goals usually has the best chance to win.
This was certainly the case Thursday night at the HP Pavilion, but it did take longer than he would have liked.
scored at 14:44 of overtime to give the second-seeded Sharks a 3-2 victory over the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Kings
in the opening game of the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
"It definitely feels good. I had missed on a few chances," said Pavelski, who had five of the Sharks' 45 shots.
Pavelski, who has a knack for scoring big goals, was the trailer on what turned into a 3-on-2 rush. He took a pass from Kyle Wellwood and fired a shot from between the tops of the circles that beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
to the glove side for his third career OT goal in the playoffs.
"I'm guessing one of their guys fell because when we took off 2-on-2, I was just trying to catch up," Pavelski said. "I definitely didn't set any speed records there. Wellwood held onto it long enough for me to get there. I got a pretty good lane to the net. Once I get a chance like that on a 3-on-2, you have to capitalize on it. I looked behind me a couple times and wanted to make sure no one was catching up to me."
Said Quick: "I got there. He just beat me. He made a pretty good shot. Obviously I wish I had made the save, and we could still be playing."
The Sharks have an opportunity to grab a 2-0 lead in the series here on Saturday night before it moves south to Los Angeles.
"This is huge," Pavelski said. "You work all season to get home-ice advantage. We did it and the crowd showed up tonight. They were loud. They never quieted down and it was exciting to play. You just try to channel your energy."
Wellwood certainly enjoyed watching Pavelski work his magic with the puck on his stick at crunch time.
"For sure, he's been scoring a ton lately," Wellwood said. "For him to pick a top corner like that was quite a shot. I was just waiting for him to get over the blue line. Fortunately, he made a great shot."
McLellan wasn't surprised.
"Pavs is a tremendous player for us," he said. "We count on him in so many different situations and he's really recognized at this time of year for a guy that elevates his play. He scores huge goals."
The Pacific Division rivals had met 110 times in the regular season since the Sharks joined the NHL in 1991 before meeting for the first time in a playoff series.
The Sharks had an opportunity to win late in regulation when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
was penalized for tripping Wellwood with 2:11 remaining, but they couldn't take advantage.
After being dominated in the first period, the Kings came to life in the second and scored two goals to tie the game 2-2.
, who missed the final nine regular-season games with a dislocated shoulder, set up Dustin Brown
on a two-on-one for a one-timer from the middle of the left circle for a power-play goal at 7:25 and he took advantage of a Sharks miscue behind the net to forge the tie at 16:20.
Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle
and Douglas Murray
misconnected on an attempted pass and collided with Kings forward Ryan Smyth, which allowed Williams to scoop up the loose puck. He moved to the side of the net and tucked the puck inside the post.
"We stuck with it, and throughout the latter part of the game, we started to pick it up and kind of take it to them a little bit," said Williams, who had six of the Kings' 35 shots and showed no ill effects from his injury. "In overtime it's anyone's game. We had some chances, they had some chances and they ended up winning. We played well. We came up short, but that just makes the second game a little bit more important."
The Sharks had taken a 2-1 lead on a goal by Logan Couture
at 10:23 of the second period. Couture squeezed between the boards and Doughty – the two are childhood friends from London, Ontario – and he skated in alone on Quick, slipping the puck between the goalie's pads.
It took the Sharks just 28 seconds to open the scoring. Dany Heatley bolted down the slot untouched, took a centering pass from Ryane Clowe
and flipped the puck between goalie Jonathan Quick
and the right post.
The Sharks dominated the first period, outshooting the Kings 14-3 while holding the visitors without a shot on two power plays -- but couldn't increase their lead.
The Sharks were down to five defensemen after Ian White took a hit into the boards from Kings forward Jarret Stoll
and didn't return. Stoll wasn't penalized and McLellan said league officials were looking into the play.
Boyle played a game-high 35 minutes and three defensemen logged in excess of 27.
"I thought there was a time in the game when we lost momentum because of it," McLellan said. "We had some of our defensemen trapped out there an awful long time. There were a couple icing situations and (the Kings) smelled that. They sensed it and went after us and the momentum swung in the second period.
"The fact that we were able to recover and play hard in the third (period) and in the overtime is rewarding, but we know it's a series that's setting up just like the first game was played – very tight, very hard, gritty. I think it'll be a real good seven-game series"