Jim Neveau, NHL Correspondent
It may have taken a second chance for the Sharks to put the Los Angeles Kings away in these playoffs, but they made the most of it on Monday night, beating the Kings 4-3 in overtime on a Joe Thornton tally two minutes in to the extra frame.
They were able to score that goal after killing off a five minute major penalty, as Jamie McGinn got the gate after a brutal hit on Brad Richardson in the closing minutes of regulation. That power play ended up being for naught for the Kings, as they only managed four shots on Antti Niemi in the entirety of the five minutes. That inability to convert on the man-advantage in front of their home crowd ended up being very costly, as the Thornton goal came a minute after the penalty expired.
The Kings fought hard throughout this series, but their downfall was the Sharks’ ability to come through in the clutch. The Sharks won all three games in the series that went to overtime, and despite being outplayed for the most part by the Kings in those tight games, San Jose did the little things to win, and that’s what it takes to be a championship contender.
For now, the Sharks will wait to see who their second round opponent will be. What they do know is that their foe will hail from the NHL’s Central Division, as they will face the Detroit Red Wings if the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks in their Game 7 this evening, or they will face Chicago should they complete their improbable comeback and come back from 3-0 down in their series.
A more detailed post-mortem will be up later this evening, but for now, here were tonight’s Stars of the Game:
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton
Thornton picked up an assist on Kyle Wellwood’s goal in the second period, and it was his decision to get to the front of the net against Jonathan Quick that enabled him to score the game winning goal at 2:22 of the overtime period. In addition to that offensive punch, Thornton also won 12 of the 17 face-offs that he took in this game, a continuation of his solid play in the dot against the Kings’ centermen. It was a fitting end to the series for a player who will be critical to San Jose’s success going forward, and the Sharks have to be pleased with the effort.
Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Lewis
Lewis shone in defeat for the Kings, scoring a game-tying power play goal with 8:22 left in the contest and assisting on Justin Williams’ power play tally in the second period. He also had a blocked shot and five hits in the game, so it was a very well-rounded effort on his part. His first career playoff goal may have been in vain, but at the very least it will give him some confidence going forward.