The L.A. Kings needed a win to save their season and playoffs. It was that simple. And a win is exactly what they earned.
The Kings, trailing the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in the best-of-seven opening-round series coming into the evening, took over the game in the second period to defeat their California rivals by a final score of 6-3. San Jose now leads the series 3-1. The final few minutes ended with animosity, including a scrap at the final buzzer between Brent Burns and Robyn Regehr.
Their offensive outburst through the second period and early into the third chased San Jose goalie Antti Niemi from the game. His night came to an end after Marian Gaborik scored 34 seconds into the third period, giving a desperate L.A. team a three-goal lead. Niemi made 21 saves on 26 shots faced.
The team in front of him was chasing the game throughout. Gaborik opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game, but the Sharks answered on a nifty play from James Sheppard, who knocked the puck out of mid-air and past Jonathan Quick to even the score at 1-1 with just seven seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Kings, undeterred, took the lead for good late in the second period, as Justin Williams showed some hand-eye coordination of his own, deftly deflecting the puck past Niemi for his second goal of the night. Tyler Toffoli scored with 59 seconds remaining in the second period to up L.A.’s lead to a pair of goals heading into the third.