SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are headed back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one season after their streak of 10 postseason appearances ended.
Joe Thornton scored the tie-breaking goal at 4:28 of the third period, and the playoff-bound Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 at SAP Center on Monday.
Justin Braun scored two goals and Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson each scored for the Sharks (42-28-6), who had lost three straight home games, squandering chances to clinch a playoff berth earlier. Martin Jones made 30 saves against his former team.
The Sharks officially clinched a playoff berth minutes before they defeated the Kings when the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2.
"I think one, appropriately, we clinched a playoff spot with a game like that against a team like that," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "That's kind of been the story all year that we wanted to prove we belonged in that category of team. We feel we do. It was a solid effort, goalie out, and it was nice to win that game."
Video: LAK@SJS: Quick uses paddle for fantastic save
The Sharks won the season-series 3-2-0 and defeated the Kings at SAP Center for the first time in three tries.
"We've been playing some good hockey, we just haven't clinched," Thornton said. "To finally get that out of the way. Now just keep playing hard and stay healthy."
Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals for the Kings (45-26-5), and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves.
The Kings' lead in the Pacific Division over the second-place Anaheim Ducks, who defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1, is one point. San Jose trails the Kings by five points.
"We had so many opportunities to get goals," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who played his 600th NHL game. "We should have won the game. We didn't get that go-ahead goal. Jones played well in the net for them. They got a couple of lucky bounces especially at the end especially after we tied it up at [2-2]. We might see them in the playoffs. We showed them that we'll be a tough match for them."
Video: LAK@SJS: Burns tallies from long distance in the 2nd
The game was tied 2-2 entering the third period, but Thornton scored on the power play, putting the Sharks ahead for good. Brent Burns sent a wrist shot from the left circle that ricocheted off of Quick. Then Pavelski shot from close range, and the puck bounced off of Quick to Thornton, right of the crease. Thornton scored his 18th goal on a wrist shot before Quick could get up off the ice.
The Sharks have won the past 29 games in which Thornton has a point.
Karlsson made it 4-2 at 16:41 of the third, taking a pass from Tommy Wingels and scoring his 10th goal of the season from close range. Braun added an empty-net goal with 18.1 seconds left.
"It's a good feeling beating them any time," Braun said. "Guys have confidence seeing them in the playoffs."
Video: LAK@SJS: Karlsson pads lead late on Wingels' dish
Lecavalier gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 9:12 of a fast-paced and physical first period on the power play. With Braun in the penalty box, Lecavalier took a pass from Alec Martinez and beat Jones from the right circle with a snap shot to the short side. The goal was his ninth of the season.
The Kings had gone 1-for-22 on the power play in their previous nine games.
Braun scored his third goal of the season at 12:57 of the first period. Wingels won a battle for the puck along the right boards, sending it to Karlsson, who hit Braun with a pass in the slot. Braun beat Quick with a wrist shot to the top right corner of the net.
The Kings had seven of the first eight shots, but San Jose outshot them 11-9 for the period.
Video: LAK@SJS: Lecavalier nets Kings' only two goals
San Jose took a 2-1 lead on Pavelski's' 36th goal of the season at 7:55 of the second period. Burns sent a wrist shot into traffic from the blue line near the right boards. The puck was deflected twice, first by Tomas Hertl then by Pavelski, who tipped it past Quick.
The Kings pulled even at 15:43 of the second period on Lecavalier's second of the game. He took a pass in the slot from Milan Lucic, skated to the right circle and scored on a wrist shot.
"It was battle all night against them," Lecavalier said. "We wanted the points as much as they did. It doesn't matter how big the game is for them, it was about us getting those two points but we didn't get them."
Video: Sharks lock up playoff berth in 5-2 win against Kings