The L.A. Kings looked like they were going to be toppled by their California rivals, the San Jose Sharks, in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Cue the comeback.
The Kings become the fourth team in National Hockey League history to erase a 3-0 series deficit to win the series four-games-to-three, thanks to a 5-1 victory over the host Sharks in Game 7 on Wednesday. The Toronto Maple Leafs (1942); New York Islanders (1975); and Philadelphia Flyers (2010) are the only other teams to complete the improbable feat, according to CBC.
Oh yeah, Kings’ forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were also part of that 2010 Philadelphia team.
The Kings will now play the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.
San Jose opened the scoring and numerous chances to take the lead even after L.A. got back on even terms, thanks to a run of five straight power plays through the second and third periods. Jonathan Quick, who had been lit up for 16 goals combined through the first three games of this series.
In this elimination game, as in the three previous, he was solid. His best stop of the night was a glove save off Patrick Marleau, with the Sharks on the power play and looking to take the lead for a second time in the evening.
There were questions and concerns from the media about the group of players – perhaps they didn’t have the right “mix” was the thinking – on the Kings roster.
Their comeback in Game 7 wasn’t quite as grand as the series itself. But they never faltered, even when the Sharks took the lead, or when the Sharks took a commanding 3-0 advantage in the series.
Drew Doughty tied the game early in the second period, and Anze Kopitar scored on a beauty backhander to give L.A. the lead. Tyler Toffoli increased their lead to two goals in the third period.
Now begins another off-season of questions for the Sharks. Todd McLellan, the head coach in San Jose since June of 2008, twice pulled starter Antti Niemi in the series, then went to Alex Stalock in Game 6 for his first career Stanley Cup playoff start, before going back to Niemi in Game 7.