SAN JOSE, Calif. — 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 to help the Sharks force a decisive seventh game with a 2-1 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.
Antti Niemi made 24 saves as the Sharks matched Los Angeles’ three home wins in this series with a third of their own. San Jose won all three games by 2-1 scores.
Game 7 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles. While the Kings seemingly have the advantage of home ice that has been so paramount this series, road teams in NHL history are 8-8 in seventh games of series where the home team has won the first six games.
Dustin Brown scored the lone goal for Los Angeles and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves. The Kings have lost 11 of 12 road games but have been unbeatable at home, winning all six playoff games and 13 in a row at Staples Center since the end of the regular season.
The Kings tried to end it in San Jose, putting pressure on Niemi early in the final period in search of the equalizer. But they couldn’t break through.
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 playoff 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 for a penalty.
But Quick and the Kings killed off all 4 minutes of power-play time and then got back into the game with just over 6 minutes left in the second when Brown banked a shot from behind the goal line off Niemi and into the net.
The Sharks started fast thanks to three early power plays and the desperation of an elimination game to continue the trend in this series of the home team scoring first when they converted on a two-man advantage. With Mike Richards already in the box for tripping Brent Burns, Anze Kopitar shot a puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty.
San Jose patiently worked the puck around during the 5-on-3 advantage and took the lead when Joe Pavelski slid a pass across the goalmouth to Thornton, who shot it in from the side of the net to end a drought of 102:14 dating to the second period in Game 4.
The Sharks were lucky that lead held up for the period as they were scrambling after that in part because of an injury that knocked defenseman Justin Braun out for the final 16 minutes of the period.
Los Angeles took the last eight shots of the period, with Niemi making two tough saves to rob Trevor Lewis on the power play and also stopping Kyle Clifford on a rebound in close. The Kings also were unlucky, hitting three posts in the period.