Thornton helps Sharks clinch playoffs with 5-2 win vs. Kings

Joe Thornton scored a tiebreaking, power-play goal early in the third period to help send the San Jose Sharks back to the playoffs with a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Justin Braun added two goals, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson also scored and the Sharks will return to the postseason after their run of 10 straight trips was snapped last season. Martin Jones made 30 saves.

Vincent Lecavalier scored twice for the first-place Kings, who had their lead in the Pacific Division cut to one point over second-place Anaheim. The Ducks are four points ahead of the third-place Sharks and have a game in hand over both of their California rivals.

Jonathan Quick made 26 saves, including a brilliant one to rob Logan Couture in the closing moments of the second period. But he had little chance to stop Thornton's go-ahead goal in the third.