Forward Patrick Marleau scored the overtime winner for the San Jose Sharks as they pushed the Los Angeles Kings to the brink of elimination with Tuesday night’s 4-3 victory at Staples Center. The win saw the Sharks extend their best-of-seven series lead to 3-0 over their in-state rival.
For as heartbreaking as these extra-time thrillers are for the losing team, the Kings owe even having a chance in overtime to the stellar play of their goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Entering the game trailing 2-0 in the series and having lost by 6-3 and 7-2 scores, Quick felt immense pressure to be at his best in an effort to get the Kings back into the series. Unfortunately for Quick and the Kings, even No. 32’s best was unable to overcome a Sharks offense firing on all cylinders.
Starting the third period, the game was knotted 2-2. After such lopsided affairs in the first two outings, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter had to have been pleased that it was anybody’s game for in the final 20 minutes. Jeff Carter scored a power play tally less than a minute into the period and things were looking up for the Kings.
Then the proverbial wheels started to fall off. The Sharks, more motivated than ever after falling behind, proceeded to pepper Quick with 23 shots in the final frame. A trio of penalties by Willie Mitchell, Alec Martinez and Jarret Stoll certainly didn’t aid the Kings’ cause. Tomas Hertl was able to tie the score for the Sharks midway through the period. The puck seemingly never left the Kings’ third of the ice, yet they were able to get the game to overtime thanks to Quick.
In an ironic twist of fate, it was the Kings who came out guns-a-blazing in the extra period. Antti Niemi, he of the 19-minute holiday in the third period, was not to be outdone by his opposite in Quick. He stood tall to save the first five shots of the period, all by L.A. The sixth shot of the period, by Marleau, iced the game for the Sharks as Quick had no chance on the deflected effort.
The Kings were the team the top seeds in the Western Conference feared being paired with. Many predicted the Kings would be able to take this series from the higher-seeded Sharks. While the Kings didn’t have their best in the opening two games of the series, they did on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for them, it still wasn’t enough.