Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kings take series after 3-0 deficit

SAN JOSE, Calif.—When Patrick Marleau scored a fluky overtime goal to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-0 series lead, the L.A. Kings easily could have moped around and started looking ahead to the off-season.
They ended up putting themselves in the hockey history books instead.

Anze Kopitar scored the tie-breaking goal late in the second period, and Jonathan Quick made 39 saves, to cap the Kings’ historic comeback from three games down for a 5-1 victory over the Sharks in Game 7 of their first-round series last night.
“Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and taking it that way, we were just more determined to get that back,” said star defenceman Drew Doughty, who tied Game 7 early in the second.
“We knew that eventually that some luck would start turning our way and it did.”
A lot more than luck went L.A.’s way as they completely took over the series—outscoring San Jose 16-3 over the final three-and-a-half games to join Toronto (1942), the N.Y. Islanders (1975), and Philadelphia (2010) as the only NHL teams to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games.
“Fortunately for us, we had our game going in time that it wasn’t too late,” noted Kings’ forward Justin Williams.
“Four in row. We’ll make a note not to do that again,” he added.
The Kings now advance to another all-California showdown in the second-round with the first “Freeway Playoff” against the Anaheim Ducks beginning Saturday night.
“This is something we’re all going to remember for the rest of our lives,” Doughty said.
“We’re not done yet. We have to move on,” he stressed. “We’re probably going to start in a few days now.
“This will be in our heads tonight. That was an unbelievable feeling.”
Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, and Dustin Brown also scored for the Kings, who silenced the normally-frenzied crowd at the Shark Tank with a dominating third period.
But the series started to turn much earlier. The Kings lost the first two games, getting outscored 13-5 as Quick looked pedestrian.
They played a strong Game 3 before losing on Marleau’s deflected goal in overtime, then took the series over midway through Game 4 as they finally eliminated the odd-man chances that fuelled San Jose’s attack early, got stellar play from Quick to shut down the Sharks’ power play, and got big performances from stalwarts Kopitar, Doughty, and Williams, as well as rookies like Toffoli and Pearson.
“When you’ve gone to the top of the mountain with the same group of guys, it’s a little bit easier when you’re at the bottom to come up,” Brown noted.
“That’s what a lot of this team is about—our guys who have stuck together and played together for years.”
Matt Irwin scored the lone goal and Antti Niemi made 25 saves for the Sharks, who added perhaps their most bitter playoff disappointment to a history of them.
San Jose has the second-most regular-season wins in the NHL the past 10 seasons, but has never made it past the conference final.
“This is as low as it’s been for me, and for the players that have been together for the six years that I’ve been here,” Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan said.
“There’s been a lot of low points but yeah, this is definitely one of them being up 3-0,” echoed Marleau.
Elsewhere, Minnesota topped Colorado 5-4 (OT) and the N.Y. Rangers edged Philadelphia 2-1 to win their respective series 4-3 and advance to the second round.

More stories