The L.A. Kings are in the history books.
On Monday, they became just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 0-3 in a series, beating San Jose 4-1 at Staples Center in front of a frenzied home crowd.
Though all 60 minutes were action-packed, this one was decided in a four-minute span in the third period. Justin Williams — who had a tremendous night, notching three points — scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 11:56 when he poked home a loose puck under Alex Stalock’s pads. The goal went to video review, as the puck did appear to disappear out of sight, but the call on the ice stood — and that’s when things went south for the Sharks.
Frazzled, they watched as L.A. scored two more times in the next three minutes. Anze Kopitar notched both for the Kings, his second and third of the playoffs, and that set the stage for a wild final five minutes that included a fight (Logan Couture vs. Mike Richards), a near-fight (Joe Thornton vs. Jonathan Quick — yes, Jonathan Quick) and a grand total of 98 penalty minutes.
With the win, the Kings are now one win away from becoming just the fourth team ever to rally from a 0-3 deficit and win a Stanley Cup playoff series. The others: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers — a team that featured two current Kings, Richards and Jeff Carter.
As for the Sharks, they can take solace in the fact they’ve been here before. In the second round of the 2011 postseason, they blew a 3-0 series lead to Detroit before regrouping to win Game 7 in San Jose. Head coach Todd McLellan and his leadership group — captain Joe Thornton, most notably — will likely revisit that scenario in the hopes of avoiding what would be the biggest collapse in franchise history on Wednesday night at the SAP Center.