Buoyed by a loud crowd and another early power-play goal, the San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Sunday to square the series and force a decisive seventh game in their NHL Western Conference semi-final.
Joe Thornton got San Jose off to a fast start with a power-play goal in the first period and TJ Galiardi added a goal in the second as the Sharks matched Los Angeles’ three home wins in this series with a third of their own.
Dustin Brown scored the sole goal for Los Angeles, who were to host Game 7 yesterday.
“We wanted this opportunity,” said Joe Pavelski, who set up Thornton’s goal. “It’s been a while since we’ve won, so we’re due.”
Los Angeles, the defending Stanley Cup champions, have lost 11 of 12 road games, but have been unbeatable at home, winning all six playoff games and 13 straight since the end of the regular season.
“It’s followed the script. Home team wins back and forth,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s time for us to get there and try to change the story.”
Another part of the script has been the tightness of every game of the series and Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said there was little to separate the teams.
“I’m sure it’s not a shock it’s come to a Game 7,” Scuderi said. “I’m sure both teams didn’t want it to go this far.”
After taking a 1-0 lead early, the Sharks went more than 15 minutes without a shot before regaining their stride early in the second period. Galiardi beat Quick with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle for his first career play-off goal to make it 2-0 and San Jose had a chance to break the game open when Justin Williams was sent to the box.
However, goalie Jonathon Quick and the Kings killed off all four minutes of power-play time and then got back into the game with just more than six minutes left in the second when Brown banked a shot from behind the goal line off Antti Niemi and into the net.