San Jose Sharks Force Game 7 With 2-1 Win Over Kings

2013 NHL Playoffs
2013 NHL Playoffs
May 26 2013 San Jose CA USA San Jose Sharks left wing TJ Galiardi 21 is congratulated by center Joe Thornton 19 for scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game six of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion Kyle Terada USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks took one step closer to reaching the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four years, and on Tuesday they will now have a chance to end the Los Angeles Kings Cup defense in a pivotal Game 7. Through six games in this riveting California clash, the home team has claimed the victory every time, meaning the Kings should hold a major advantage with the series returning to the City of Angels, but nothing is certain in a Game 7.

Goals were hard to come by on Sunday night, as they have been throughout the series. After pitching a shutout in Game 5, Jonathan Quick was strong once again, but even the best of goaltenders struggles with two teammates in the penalty box. Quick found himself in such a daunting position six minutes into the first period. With Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar in the sin bin, the Sharks smelled blood and went in for the kill. After Quick turned away countless chances, Joe Pavelski slid the puck across the face of goal for Joe Thornton, who popped the puck into a wide open net from just above the end line.

Thornton has enjoyed a remarkable postseason, with 10 points in 10 games. His consistent success comes in stark contrast to his history of playoff failures. If Thornton can maintain his point-per-game pace, he could finally carry the Sharks to the Cup.

The Sharks doubled their lead in the second when T.J. Galiardi carried the puck into the zone and let rip from just above the faceoff dot. On the fast break, Galiardi put the puck through Robyn Regehr‘s legs and past a confused-looking Jonathan Quick for his first goal of the playoffs.

Down 2-0, the defending champs refused to die. They battled back late in the second to cut the lead to one. Kings captain Dustin Brown found the puck below the goal line and banked it off Antti Niemi for his third of the postseason.

Neither Quick nor Niemi could be beaten in the third, as San Jose tied up the series. The Sharks found much of their success at the faceoff dot, winning nearly 60 percent of the draws. Their control of the puck was pivotal in the defensive struggle.

The Sharks will have to pack their offense for the short trip down to LA. They’ve been shutout in two of their three trips to the Staples Center so far in the series. Nonetheless, four of the six games have been decided by just one goal, suggesting that both clubs will have a shot on Tuesday.

The winner will meet the survivor of the Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings series, which could end Monday night in Detroit with a Red Wings victory. Otherwise, both Western Conference series will go the distance, denying the clubs the rest afforded to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins on the opposite side of the bracket.

For now, the Sharks and Kings couldn’t care less about rest. They simply want to stay alive, and to keep playing hockey, in the never-ending pursuit of Lord Stanley’s hardware.

author avatar
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');