The San Jose Sharks will try to rebound from a crushing loss when they host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday.
The Sharks find themselves down 2-0 in this best-of-seven series against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The last meeting saw San Jose implode in the final two minutes en route to a Game 2 setback in Los Angeles.
San Jose trailed 2-0 in the early stages of Thursday's battle, but tied the game at 2-2 by the end of the second period before taking the lead with 11:04 left in the third. The Sharks held the 3-2 edge heading into the final two minutes before the Kings scored a pair of power-play goals to win it 4-3 in regulation.
Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis scored power-play goals just 22 seconds apart for the fifth-seeded Kings, who have now won six straight since falling behind two games to none in the opening round against St. Louis. Los Angeles went 16-4 last spring to claim the franchise's first Stanley Cup title and is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since Detroit in 1997 and '98.
The Kings, who have won 12 straight at the Staples Center dating back to the regular season, began their comeback late in the third after San Jose's Brad Stuart was called for tripping. Just 22 seconds later, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was whistled for a delay of game as he flipped the puck over the glass in his own zone.
On the 5-on-3, Mike Richards threw a shot on net from the left circle that was stopped by San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi. Jeff Carter was then able to push the rebound to the front where Brown pushed the puck in to tie the contest at 18:17.
Still on a man advantage, the Kings then went up as Tyler Toffoli, playing his first playoff game, came in down the right wing and fired a shot on net that Niemi made a right pad save on, but the rebound kicked out to the left and Lewis buried it for a 4-3 lead with 1:21 to play.
The Sharks got Niemi out of the net in the final minute for an extra attacker, but were unable to get anything going before time expired.
"Yeah, it was a good breakout. Toffoli made a great shot and luckily it bounced right off my stick," said Lewis. "We know we didn't play our best so we got some work to do and clean things up. It's a big comeback for our team and it's a huge win for us."
Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist while Drew Doughty also scored for the Kings. Jonathan Quick, who posted a shutout in Tuesday's 2-0 victory, made 28 saves in the win.
"We found a way," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. "You know what, the power play was on, we've been talking about it, we've been getting good looks and good opportunities and not finishing and we got it from different guys quite honestly. It was good to see Brown score a goal, breakout hopefully, and Lewis scoring the winner and Toffoli making a great play."
Despite taking the game-changing penalties, Stuart had a goal and an assist in the loss while Vlasic also scored. Patrick Marleau also tallied and Niemi made 27 stops in the loss.
"Tomorrow when we meet I'll tell them the good things we did," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said after the heartbreaking defeat. "We will talk about some of the adjustments we made and how it helped us. We'll talk about things we need to clean up a little bit and the most important thing is they'll know we believe in them. It was a hell of an effort tonight."
San Jose played the game without forward Raffi Torres as he was suspended for the rest of this semifinal series for an illegal hit to the head of Kings forward Jarret Stoll in Game 1 on Tuesday. Stoll is still sidelined indefinitely with what is rumored to be a concussion.
The sixth-seeded Sharks hope they can get things back on track at home, where they were 17-2-5 during the regular season. San Jose also won both games at HP Pavilion in their opening-round sweep of Vancouver.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, was 1-2 as the guest in Round 1 after posting a sub- par 8-12-4 record on the road during the regular season. The Kings and Sharks split four regular-season meetings this year, with each team winning twice at home.
Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose.
This marks just the second postseason meeting between these two Pacific Division rivals. The Sharks got the best of the Kings in six games during the 2011 conference quarterfinals.