LOS ANGELES – A whacky backhander ended Tuesday night’s affair, the Kings now on the brink of elimination.
This was one the Kings needed dearly after coming off a pair of rough losses in San Jose; you could just about say they needed it. Back at STAPLES Center, the building where the Kings have dominated the Sharks in recent years, the Kings couldn’t protect, or finish.
In what was unarguably the Kings’ best performance of the series so far, they’re suddenly flung into must-win situations from here on out.
Patrick Marleau’s OT winner, a whacky backhanded rebound attempt that deflected off of Robyn Regehr’s stick and past Jonathan Quick 6:20 into OT gave the Sharks a 4-3 win Tuesday night, now with a 3-0 stranglehold lead in the series.
San Jose struck first 3:16 into the contest on a Brent Burns goal, but the Kings didn’t break, containing San Jose to keep the score 1-0 heading into the second period.
The Kings fought back with a pair of goals in a 3:11 span early in the second period to take a 2-1 lead.
On the Kings’ third power play of the evening, Tyler Toffoli found Jarett Stoll with an outstanding cross-ice pass, which Stoll then one-timed to the top left corner, beating Antti Niemi to tie the score 1-1 with 15:12 to play in the second period.
Minutes later, Marian Gaborik coasted from end-to-end, and beat Antti Niemi with a slick backhander to give the Kings a 2-1 lead with 12:01 to play in the second period.
Just over a minute after Gaborik gave the Kings the lead, San Jose’s Matt Nieto struck back for the Sharks, deflecting home a Jason Demers shot from the point past Jonathan Quick, tying the score 2-2 with 10:43 to play in the middle frame.
After San Jose’s James Sheppard took a tripping penalty late in the second period, the Kings began the third period with :58 seconds of power play time.
:51 seconds into the third, on that power play, Jeff Carter tipped home the Kings’ third goal of the night, redirecting home an Anze Kopitar wrist shot, giving the Kings a 3-2 lead with 19:02 left in regulation.
With 10:43 left to play, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl jammed home the Sharks’ third goal of the evening, finding the puck amidst a scrum that had ensued after Jonathan Quick made a few initial saves on the play.
Jarret Stoll drew an interference penalty with 1:58 remaining in the third period, but the Kings successfully killed it off, extending the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Kings absolutely dominated. For the first five-plus minutes of the OT period, the Kings had control of the puck in San Jose’s zone, firing off five shots on Antti Niemi before the Sharks could even record a shot.
The Sharks’ first shot, though, is what ended it.
After San Jose was able to penetrate and establish control in the Kings’ zone for the first time in OT, Patrick Marleau had a puck pop out to him in the crease, and after shifting his body and taking a couple jabs at the puck, booted a backhander that ricochet off the stick of Robyn Regehr, past Jonathan Quick, for the game.
The Kings now trail 3-0 in the series; Game 4 will be Thursday night.
The last time the Kings found themselves in a three-game deficit in a playoff series, it was in 2000 against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Kings were eventually swept.
The Kings played in their 41st playoff game since 2012 tonight, the most for any NHL team in that span.
Game 4 is slated for a 7:30 PM PST puck drop at STAPLES Center.