San Jose, CA – Once again, the San Jose Sharks showed there's no place like home.
Antti Niemi stopped 24-of-25 shots and added an assist on T.J. Galiardi's eventual game-winning goal in the second period, and the Sharks forced a deciding Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series with the Los Angeles Kings with a 2-1 victory at HP Pavilion.
Joe Thornton delivered a power-play goal early in the first period for San Jose, now 5-0 on home ice during this postseason.
"It's followed the script. Home team wins back and forth," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "It's time for us to get there and try to change the story."
Their efforts enabled the Sharks to send the series back to Los Angeles for a winner-take-all showdown at the Staples Center, where the Kings haven't lost in six tilts in these playoffs.
Dustin Brown potted the lone goal for Los Angeles, with Jonathan Quick coming up with 24 saves in defeat.
The Kings didn't play with the poise fitting of a defending Stanley Cup champion during the game's initial stages. Los Angeles took three penalties in the opening five minutes, including infractions from Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar 14 seconds apart that gave a Sharks' power play that's been lethal at home all throughout these playoffs, a lengthy 5-on-3 situation.
"It's not good when you're two centerman are sitting in those seats looking at you," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said.
San Jose capitalized on the two-man advantage, with Thornton depositing a crisp centering feed from Joe Pavelski into an open right side with 6:09 elapsed in the contest.
The Kings did turn it up a notch after the Thornton goal, however, and narrowly tied things up twice before the first period came to a close. Drew Doughty hit the right post on a power play near the midway mark of the frame, and Dwight King also struck iron on a rebound off a Trevor Lewis shot around three minutes later.
San Jose then came out with a head of steam to start the second period, and extended the margin to 2-0 when Galiardi collected a puck chipped up the ice by teammate Scott Hannan, rushed up the right wing and fired a wrister through Quick's pads at the 4:10 mark.
Los Angeles was able to kill off a high-sticking double minor to Justin Williams later in the session, then cut its deficit in half not long afterward.
Matt Greene sent a blast that was blocked in front of the net, but Brown alertly knocked home the carom 6:07 prior to the second intermission to bring the Kings within 2-1.
Los Angeles, which has struggled to score on the road all throughout this postseason, couldn't come through with the equalizer, however.
Four of the Kings' eight third-period shots came in the final 5 1/2 minutes, but Niemi stood tall and Los Angeles couldn't muster a quality chance after pulling Quick with just over a minute left.
The Kings fell to 1-5 on the road in the playoffs and have scored exactly one goal in each of those losses. They've also dropped nine straight overall meetings with the Sharks in San Jose ... The Sharks have converted 10-of-29 power-play opportunites (34.5 percent) at home during the postseason, compared to a 1-of-19 success rate on the road ... San Jose entered the matchup 4-14 all-time in Game 6's ... Center Adam Burish returned to the Sharks' lineup after missing the first five games of the series with a broken right hand sustained in the team's Game 4 win over Vancouver in the opening round ... San Jose won 58 percent of its faceoff chances for the game.