SAN JOSE -- Once again for the San Jose Sharks, a game rested on the sticks of Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, who were big factors in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This time, though, the two extraordinary Joes could not deliver. As a result, the Sharks find themselves in a close series, following a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round series at SAP Center on Monday.
Left wing Tanner Pearson scored 3:47 into overtime, on his only shot of the game, to get the Kings halfway back to even in the best-of-7 series.
Game 4 is in San Jose on Wednesday (10:30 p.m., ET; USA, CSN-CA, CBC, TVA Sports).
"It was just a good hockey game," Thornton said. "[The game] went back and forth both ways. Obviously, we would like a better fate."
Thornton tried to deliver for the Sharks. He scored 30 seconds into the game, whipping a shot past a surprised Jonathan Quick.
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Thornton gives Sharks an early lead
The Sharks were already leading the series 2-0 and had the early advantage in Game 3. The crowd, sensing something special, was braying for the finishing blow.
Instead, the Kings stumbled forward through a hail of body shots in the first five minutes and tied the game on a power-play goal from Anze Kopitar at 8:10 of the first period.
The Sharks were the better team after the first period, locking down defensively. The Kings had nine shots during the rest of regulation.
The Sharks, though, could not score again, could not find an opening to take a commanding 3-0 series lead and put the Kings on the brink of elimination. The Sharks dominance for most of the final 40 minutes of regulation had the Kings rubber-legged, but alive.
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Quick denies the Sharks three times
Quick was a game-changer for the first time, making several highlight-reel saves.
The top line kept pressing. The Sharks have seven goals in the playoffs and the Thornton and Pavelski have played a part in six of them. Kings coach, Darryl Sutter, called that line the difference in the series after Game 2.
They failed to be difference makers Monday, but thought they could be until the end.
Midway through the third period when Kings left wing Milan Lucic was sent to the box for a slashing infraction, the Sharks had a chance on the power play.
Over the boards came Thornton and Pavelski, ready to feed off the crowd and deliver another memory.
"We felt like we were going to get one," Thornton said of the fourth of six power plays for the Sharks on the night. "The crowd was into it, we were into it, they broke a stick, and we got a lot of shots. It felt like it was right there and it just didn't happen."
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Quick stops Burns, freezes play
Defenseman Brent Burns started the power play by shooting wide before Pavelski tipped another shot just wide of Quick. Burns had a shot from the point blocked and then it happened; the moment of magic that has come to be expected from this pair.
Thornton got the puck and held it, surveying the other players on the ice. He saw an open lane and took a hard, but accurate, cross-seam pass to Pavelski, who miss-hit the shot by a fraction and missed the net.
"It's a hard pass, but it's one I believe I can hit," said Pavelski, who had three goals and an assist in the first two games. "I got a little too much ice and it kind of rolled up and went over the net."
The Sharks had four more shots blocked on that power play and missed the net with two more, but that Thornton-to-Pavelski pass lingered well after the penalty kill.
Thornton thought the pass was good enough to score the go-ahead goal.
"I thought so because he is a pretty good shooter from there but, unfortunately, it did not go in," Thornton said. "Next time it will go in."
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Quick splits, robs Ward on doorstep
Pavelski didn't want to focus on just that play.
"There were a few other [chances]," he said.
But Thornton knows a golden opportunity was missed Monday and he knows he played a part in the failure.
He also knows he will have more opportunities to put a stamp on this series. When he walked out of the dressing room, Thornton was already looking ahead.
"They scored the power-play goal and we didn't; that's probably the bottom line that we didn't get it done on special teams," Thornton said. "But, Wednesday will come and we will have another good game."