Los Angeles strengthens grip on series with late comeback against San Jose, leads series 2-0

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings faced adversity for the first time since game two of their series with St. Louis.  On Thursday night, they blew an early two-goal lead, saw their top scorer miss nearly half the third period after taking a puck in the mouth and were overwhelmed by losing two-thirds of their face-offs.

What really mattered in the end was the final score where Los Angeles won 4-3 against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night in game two of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.  The Kings were largely helped by two late power-play goals from Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis 22 seconds apart in the final 1:43, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 victory.LA Kings 3rd

The Kings blew an early 2-0 lead as the Sharks scored twice in the second period and grabbed the lead on defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s goal midway through the third.  But the defending Stanley Cup champions remained calm and they made the most of their opportunities in the final minutes of regulation after Brad Stuart was sent off for tripping with 2:41 remaining and Vlasic flipped the puck into the crowd 22 seconds later for a delay of game penalty.

With the Kings enjoying a two-man advantage, Brown tied the game at 18:17 when he went to the net and slammed home a rebound past Antti Niemi after Jeff Carter put a heavy shot on goal.  Lewis won it when he tucked a rebound past the Sharks netminder after rookie Tyler Toffoli sped down the right boards firing a shot off Niemi’s pads during the 5-on-4 power play.

The game represented how confident, resilient teams find ways to win.  Despite the consistent dominance Los Angeles has exhibited in these playoffs, this was the first real threat they faced in the 2013 postseason.  Los Angeles dominance in shots during the third period, an 18-7 advantage over San Jose.

Kopitar took a puck to the face on Brown’s shot just after the start of the final period, but returned midway through to the surprise of the Kings’ faithful.  The comeback efforts came with the Kings playing without center Jarrett Stoll who was knocked out of game on an illegal hit from Raffi Torres.  The Sharks pest has been suspended for the remainder of the series, a punishment largely driven by the physical player’s history of questionable and damaging hits.

It seemed like the Sharks might take the edge on the Kings in game two, dominating them in the face-off department by winning 44 of 65.In the end, though, it really didn’t matter as Los Angeles won their 12th consecutive home game since Match and their sixth post-season home game.

San Jose last encountered a 0-2 series deficit in the 2011 Western Conference Finals, a series their eventually lost to Vancouver.

That goal looked like it might hold up until the Sharks’ late penalty troubles.

San Jose continued to struggle on the power play, going 0 for 4 and 0 for 7 in game two.  Sharks’ penalty killers have allowed 3 goals on 6 shorthanded situations.

The Kings won 2-0 in Game 1 behind a 35-save performance by Quick, and when Los Angeles grabbed a two-goal lead on a first-period goal by Carter and a second-period power-play goal by Drew Doughty, the Sharks surely wondered if they would ever solve Quick.

They finally beat last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner at 9:47 of the second period when Patrick Marleau finished off a perfect passing play, ending Quick’s shutout streak at 125:08. Stuart tied it at 14:21 when he fired from the right circle and beat Quick through a screen.

Carter scored 3:06 into the opening frame on the Kings’ first shot of the game, beating Niemi with a wrist shot that appeared to catch the goaltender off-guard.

Doughty made it 2-0 when he took a cross-ice backhand pass by Brad Richardson and beat Niemi from inside the left circle at 4:10 of the second.  Doughty was so open enough to settle the puck down and catch Dustin Penner partially screening Niemi.

Marleau’s goal ended Quick’s shutout streak on the Sharks’ 52nd shot of the series.

Scott Gomez, who was moved to the third line after Torres’ suspension was announced, made his second great pass of the night to set up Stuart’s tying goal. After a turnover by Jake Muzzin, Gomez laid out a pass that Stuart fired from the right side with congestion in front.

Quick tied Kelly Hrudey for the franchise lead in playoff wins at 26. L.A. matched a club record with its 12th straight home win, last done in 1992. The Kings set a franchise record with its fifth consecutive home win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game three is Saturday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose. The puck drops at 9:00 PM ET.

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