The San Jose Sharks forced a Game 7 with a thrilling 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.
In front of a buzzing crowd at HP Pavilion, Joe Thornton and T.J. Galiardi were able to net the first two goals, and Antti Niemi held on down the stretch to secure the must-have victory for Todd McLellan's squad.
San Jose got the scoring started in the first period.
With a 5-on-3 advantage thanks to a hooking call on Mike Richards and delay of game on Anze Kopitar, Joe Pavelski slid one across the net to an open Thornton, who finished off the surgical goal.
Another home game, another power-play goal for the Sharks:
Did You Know? 10 of @sanjosesharks’ 11 PPGs this postseason have come at home (10/27, 37%) compared to just 1 on the road (1/19, 5.3%).— NHL (@NHL) May 27, 2013
The rest of the period, though, was controlled by the Kings. They earned two power plays of their own and came excruciatingly close to finding the equalizer on several occasions:
Additionally, the Sharks had a whopping zero shots in the last eight minutes of the period.
Comcast Sports Net's Ray Ratto indicated how little that mattered, however:
Sharks won faceoff battle, 13-3, but period swung toward Kings about eight minutes in. This, of course, means nothing— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) May 27, 2013
And he was right. Just over four minutes into the second period, San Jose grabbed the game's second goal when Galiardi smashed in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that was assisted by Scott Hannan and Antti Niemi.
For at least the time being, it was a goal that helped quiet his postseason critics:
Galiardi scores his first goal of playoffs, just when needed most. Quick did not embellish his disappointment.— Mark Purdy (@MercPurdy) May 27, 2013
But the Kings wouldn't go away. Nearly 10 minutes later, Dustin Brown put one home off Niemi's shoulder from behind the net to cut the lead to 2-1.
Who deserved the No. 1 star of the game?
That's where we would both start and finish the third period.
The Sharks owned most of the final frame. They put loads of pressure on Jonathan Quick, and while he was able to hold strong, the Kings couldn't scrounge up enough shots on goal to extend the game into overtime.
Despite too many giveaways, the Sharks were able to advance the series with a dominance in the faceoff circle and a tremendous effort from Thornton, the game's No. 1 star.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, the series—which has seen the home team go 6-0—shifts back to Staples Center for the crucial Game 7 on Tuesday night.