Game 6; Series tied 3-3
LOS ANGELES - They entered Game 6 hoping to become just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 when down 0-3 in the series. The Los Angeles Kings started the night strong, but finished even stronger as they left the San Jose Sharks rattled and frustrated, winning by a 4-1 score. Not, however, before controversy played a role. Nevertheless, this series now shifts back to San Jose on Wednesday night for that all-important seventh and deciding game.
Entering Game 6, Justin Williams has scored five goals when his Kings play elimination games. In the early going, he made it six as he tipped in a Drew Doughty cross-ice pass past Alex Stalock to put the home team out in front. The goal, scored at 5:39 of the first, was also assisted by Jake Muzzin.
While that was the only goal scored in the first, it was Los Angeles who held the slight advantage, outshooting San Jose by a 12-11 margin. But in the second, the Sharks began to take over.
In addition to outshooting the Kings by a 9-1 margin in the early part of the second, the Sharks found themselves with a critical 5-on-3 power play, warranted by two high-sticking infractions. But the Los Angeles defense was all over the San Jose offensive attack, limiting them to just two shots on the man-advantage. Needless to say, the kill sent Staples Center into a frenzy. Unfortunately, the Kings couldn't keep the Sharks off the board.
At the 12:26 mark, Justin Braun took a point shot that was tipped by James Sheppard and in, tying the game. Suddenly, the Sharks were in position to take control of the game and for them, a chance to ultimately end the series. Entering the third, the pressure was on both sides - but it was the home team who jumped out, albeit controversially.
At the 11:56 mark of the third, San Jose's Alex Stalock appeared to have stopped a routine shot in front when Justin Williams shoved his stick between the netminder's pads, knocking the puck into the net. On the play, it looked as if Williams push Stalock back under his own volition. The referee on the ice immediately signaled a goal but it was under review. After going to Toronto to look over the play, the goal stood. Make that goal number seven for Justin Williams in elimination games for the Kings. But the silver-and-black were not done there.
Just 91 seconds after Williams regained the lead, he set up a streaking Anze Kopitar for a beautiful goal that saw Alex Stalock dive for almost aimlessly.
The Williams goal was enough but Kopitar's goal set off a very high frustration level with the Sharks, who were penalized shortly after it was 3-1.
On the power play, just 1:15 after he added the insurance goal, Anze Kopitar tallied again, knocking the puck home on the doorstep to make it 4-1. Both he and Williams could now celebrate with two goals apiece.
While there was plenty of bad blood in this series already, it reached a boiling point in the latter stages of this one. Mike Richards and Logan Couture dropped the gloves and a little later, Joe Thornton interfered with Jonathan Quick who, in turn, stormed out of his net to get at the San Jose veteran. Quick was restrained, as was Thornton, but the end result of this game was already in the bag as Los Angeles put on an explosion in the third period to force Game 7.
As previously mentioned, the Kings, with their win on Monday, become just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after trailing 0-3 in a series.
If Game 6 was exciting, then Game 7 should prove to be the ultimate thrill ride for both teams. Everything will be on the line at the SAP Center on Saturday night - and we will see which team outlasts who.