Game 7; LA wins series 4-3
SAN JOSE - On Monday night, they became just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 when down 0-3 in a series as they beat the San Jose Sharks by a 4-1 score. But the Los Angeles Kings were not satisfied. Instead, they were looking to become just the fourth team in league history to win a series when down 0-3. On Wednesday night, they were in position to do just that, but they had to do it in enemy territory.
Despite the outcome of the previous three games, the San Jose Sharks burst right out of the gate on Wednesday as if they hadn't missed a beat. They controlled the tempo throughout much of the first period but despite holding a 14-9 advantage in shots, could not score. Physically, the opening period didn't disappoint as both teams, as per usual, threw their bodies around at a near-rapid pace. It was scoreless after the first 20. But San Jose's efforts eventually paid off.
Just 28 seconds into the second period, defenseman Matt Irwin took a point shot that got by a screened Jonathan Quick and in. Suddenly, the SAP Center was rocking. Irwin, who replaced the injured Marc-Eduard Vlasic, scored his first of the series. But the Kings were unfazed.
After killing off two critical penalties and witnessing a glorious goal line save by Jonathan Quick, the Kings had a chance to tie.
With the amount of questionable officiating in this series, the Kings found themselves on the right end of an elbowing call that sent Logan Couture to the penalty box. Despite the dismay of both Couture and the Sharks fans in attendance, Los Angeles was on the power play, and they capitalized. After a battle in front of the San Jose net, Drew Doughty jumped on a juicy rebound and snapped home his first of the playoffs to tie the game and, in the process, pump his own bench up. Marian Gaborik helped out with the second assist.
Despite their surge in momentum, the Kings just could not stay out of the box. They took three-straight penalties and the Sharks did everything except score. They came close multiple times but Jonathan Quick made a series of key saves, just a few of his 39 overall. Then, towards the end of the middle frame, the Kings returned the favour.
With just 1:21 remaining in the second, Justin Williams, who elevates his game when his teams are facing eliminaton, was fighting for the puck in the corner and fed a streaking Anze Kopitar who patiently deked out a sprawled Antti Niemi to score on a beautiful play to give Los Angeles their first lead of the night. The goal was Kopitar's fourth with Kyle Clifford notching his first point of the series with the other assist.
Entering the third, the Kings were on a mission to complete the historic comeback, and they got off on the right foot.
4:40 into the third, it was Tanner Pearson passing out in front to a streaking Tyler Toffoli who potted it upstairs to give the Kings some insurance. Jake Muzzin got the second assist. But the Sharks kept trying to press. Unfortunately for them, both Quick and the defense were not having any of it.
In an act of desperaton, Todd MacLellan pulled his goaltender with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. But Dustin Brown sealed it, scoring his second into the empty net followed a little later by Tanner Pearson who netted an empty-netter of his own.
The comeback was officially complete as the Los Angeles Kings won by a 5-1 score and more importantly, becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 0-3.
For the Kings, the win gives them one of their biggest achievements in franchise history while the San Jose Sharks, notorious playoff underachievers, suffer what has to be their worst, and most infamous loss, in team history.
As for Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, they become the first players in any professional sport to be part of two different teams to overcome 0-3 series deficits to win a series. The duo first helped accomplished the feat during the 2010 Eastern Semi-Final when their then-Philadelphia Flyers ousted the Boston Bruins.
Speaking of Richards, while he still doesn't have a goal this postseason, he sure did have a positive effect on this night, leading his team with eight shots. Trevor Lewis led the silver-and-black with five hits while Matt Greene, who replaced the injured Willie Mitchell, redeemed himself after a horrendous Game 2 by finishing with a +1 rating, two shots and a blocked shots during 12:43 of ice time.
So, if one Battle of California wasn't enough for you, then you will be thrilled with the next round as the Los Angeles Kings open their West Semi-Final series in Anaheim against the hated Ducks.
As hostile as their first-round series was, the Los Angeles Kings should step it up a notch in their next series.