The Sharks finally found a way to beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on Thursday night. But San Jose couldn’t overcome two penalties in the final moments and were stunned 4-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Staples Center.
Los Angeles took a 2 games to 0 lead in the best-of-seven series by scoring two goals during a 22-second span late in the third period to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage and put the Sharks in a hole as the series moves north to San Jose for Game 3 on Saturday night.
The Sharks fell behind 2-0 early in the second period despite holding a substantial advantage in shots and spending a lot of time in the Kings zone. But San Jose finally beat Quick for the first time in the series just after failing to score on the power play when crisp passing by Logan Couture and Joe Thornton resulted in a wide open net for Patrick Marleau, who easily pushed it home to cut the deficit to 2-1.
That seemed to open up the ice for the Sharks, who did a better job creating traffic in front of Quick throughout the night. San Jose ended up scoring three goals in less than 20 minutes to take the lead, with Brad Stuart and Marc-Edouard Vlasic lighting the lamp to give the Sharks the advantage.
The Sharks still held the lead with less than three minutes to go, as goaltender Antti Niemi continually fended off a consistent string of pressure by the Kings in the third period. With Los Angeles on the attack late in the game, Stuart was called for tripping Los Angeles rookie Tyler Toffoli at 17:19. The ensuing power play had barely got started when Vlasic hit the puck into the stands for a delay of game. Suddenly, the Kings had a 5-on-3.
It took Los Angeles 36 seconds with a two-man advantage to score and knot the game. Dustin Brown scored off a rebound from a shot by Mike Richards at 18:17 to make it 3-3. The Staples Center crowd was still celebrating Brown’s goal when Toffoli sped down the ice and threw it off Niemi. The rebound went right to Trevor Lewis on the other side of the crease, and he easily put it past Niemi, who had been lunging the other way to stop the initial try by Toffoli.
In a dizzying 22 seconds, the Sharks were suddenly behind and had just 81 seconds to try to register the equalizer. San Jose pulled Niemi shortly after but couldn’t mount a serious scoring chance.
It will take a dip into the well of mental toughness for the Sharks to recover, but they can be encouraged by the headway they made against Quick, the 2012 Conn Smythe Award winner who stymied them with 35 saves in a 2-0 victory in Game 1. The first period was more of the same, as San Jose outshot Los Angeles 11-4 but trailed 1-0. Couture and Joe Pavelski each got good shots off immediately after the Sharks won the game’s opening faceoff, and San Jose kept that pressure on Quick for most of the period.
The game turned for the time being midway through the second period when Couture outraced Alec Martinez for the puck while shorthanded, forcing Martinez into a hooking penalty. San Jose didn’t score during the ensuing 4-on-4 and power play, but Marleau broke through just after that sequence.
That seemed to provide relief more than anything for the Sharks, and the ice opened up a bit. San Jose started to make dents in the Kings’ defense, and tied it up when Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard did good work screening Quick, who didn’t appear to ever see a shot by Stuart. The goal tied the game at 2-2 at 14:21 of the second period.
Vlasic missed the final 4:35 of the second period after taking a shot into the boards by Jeff Carter, who was called for charging. But Vlasic would be heard from again after a shot by Stuart bounced off the boards and trickled back in front of the goal. With Wingels holding off Colin Fraser, Vlasic snuck in and pushed the puck past Quick to give the Sharks a 3-2 advantage.
The Sharks played the game without Raffi Torres, who earlier in the day was suspended for the rest of the series for his it on the Kings’ Jarret Stoll in Game 1.
STAR OF THE GAME: Trevor Lewis. The Kings forward scored the game-winner with 1:21 remaining, completing a power play rush and converting a rebound off a shot by rookie Tyler Toffoli.
GAME DATA: The Kings scored two goals during a stunning 22-second span to take the lead in the third period. … Los Angeles has won 12 straight home games dating back to the regular season. … Quick hadn’t allowed a goal for 125 minutes before Marleau scored in the second period.
INJURY REPORT: Forwards Martin Havlat and Adam Burish, and defenseman Jason Demers are still out with undisclosed injuries for the Sharks. Torres is suspended. Stoll is out with an undisclosed injury for Los Angeles. Along with Vlasic, the Kings’ Anze Kopitar missed a chunk of time in the third period after getting hit in the face with the puck, but was able to return.
TEAM STATS: Shots – SJ 31, LA 31. Faceoffs won – SJ 44, LA 21. Hits – LA 38, SJ 31.
NEXT UP: Game 3 is Saturday night at HP Pavilion. The Sharks are 2-0 at home so far in the postseason.
NHL.COM RECAPLOS ANGELES --
Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis scored 22 seconds apart in the final two minutes, and the Los Angeles Kings remarkably pulled out a 4-3 win Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Los Angeles now takes a 2-0 lead into Game 3 of the best-of-7 series Saturday night at HP Pavilion.
"We've been through a lot together, and that goes a long way when you get yourself into tight situations," Brown told NBC Sports Network. "At this time of year, it's just a matter of sticking to your game. As a group, we have a lot of things to clear up to be successful in this series."
Skating on a 5-on-3 power play, Brown pushed a puck from in close past goalie Antti Niemi with 1:43 left in the third period to tie the game 3-3. Still up a man, Lewis converted a rebound from a shot off the wing by Tyler Toffoli off Niemi's pad with 1:21 to go for the surprising outcome.
"For me it's just about getting traffic in front of Niemi," Brown told TSN. "With the personnel we have, just get it around the net. [Jeff Carter] kind of whacked it and I just chipped it in over Niemi.
"I was still just sitting down on the second goal, but I think [Toffoli] made a great play driving wide and just kind of threw it off the back pad. When you've got guys going to the net, good things happen."
San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart had been called for tripping Toffoli. Then, 22 seconds into the penalty kill, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was called for delay of game after flipping the puck over the glass.
"We got an opportunity 5-on-3 late in the game, and those are the kind of opportunities you've got to bury," Brown said. "Much like last year in the playoffs, our power play wasn't great percentage-wise, but it came through at big moments."
San Jose had finally broken Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a two-goal second period and took advantage of the brief absence of Kings center Anze Kopitar in the third for a 3-2 lead on Vlasic's goal at 8:56 before the huge rally.
"There's a lot of good to take out of that game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "... Like a lot, dislike the fact that we lost, and that's the bottom line. ...
"We got three [goals], but when you get three you better beat this team."
Kopitar was struck by Brown in the face 42 seconds into the third period but returned midway through to loud cheers of the Staples Center crowd.
L.A. looked like it wasn't going to miss a beat without Jarret Stoll, who was knocked out in Game 1 on an illegal hit by Raffi Torres, who received a series-long suspension earlier in the day.
But after taking a 2-0 lead, the Kings fell behind 3-2.
Patrick Marleau and Stuart scored in the second period to end Quick's shutout streak at 125:08 from Game 6 of the quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues. Vlasic's goal came after he was briefly taken out by Carter's charging penalty 200 feet from his own net.
Scott Gomez, promoted to the Sharks' third line in the Torres readjustment, made his second great pass of the night to set up Stuart and tie it at 2-2 in a breakthrough second period. After a turnover by Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, Gomez sent a pass that Stuart fired from the right side with traffic in front of Quick at 14:21, something San Jose failed to accomplish in Game 1.
San Jose finally cracked Quick on its 52nd shot of the series, a seamless tic-tac-toe play to hush the crowd. Marleau fought off defenseman Slava Voynov at the top of the crease and tapped in Joe Thornton's pass at 9:47.
Brad Richardson replaced Stoll on the Kings' third line and made a cross-ice backhand pass to Drew Doughty for a 2-0 lead at 4:10 of the second. The defenseman was so open he had time to settle the puck and catch Dustin Penner partially screening Niemi.
"When top guys go down, it's an opportunity for other guys to step in," Brown said. "Tonight, [Toffoli] made a great play on the game-winning goal. That's the great thing about our team -- we have a lot of depth and a lot of experience together, so when we have a young guy like [him] come in, he can just blend in with the rest of the guys."
San Jose had to be banging its collective head against the wall at first intermission because the opening period played out like Game 1. It fell into a 1-0 hole despite outshooting the Kings early.
The Sharks held an 11-4 edge in shots but squandered two power plays and watched the Kings score on their first shot of the game. Carter skated the puck down the right side from below his own blue line and cranked a signature wrist shot that beat Niemi at 3:06.