Two years ago, the San Jose Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings. For longtime Sharks fans, it may have felt like history was repeating itself. For some Kings fans, the curse wasn’t going to go away. That has led to many years of disappointment, but not this season.
The Sharks had the NHL’s best road record during the regular season. The Kings were a persistent issue, but Team Teal didn’t slow down in Game 5 against their southern California rival.
Each game in the series has been decided by one goal. The visiting team won until Game 4. The Sharks took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 3-2 win at SAP Center on Wednesday.
It was certainly a night for the rookies.
Joonas Donskoi received a pass from Logan Couture, remained patient with the puck and ripped his wrist shot into the net to open the scoring for the Sharks 1:08 into the first period.
Chris Tierney skated in and ripped a snap snot past a screen in front to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead at 11:21.
The Sharks led 2-0 after 20 minutes.
San Jose kicked off the second period with another early goal. Joel Ward made a short pass to Matt Nieto, who hammered in the puck into the net to make it 3-0 Sharks at 4:05.
All of a sudden, there were increased levels of anxiety in Sharks fans, as their team trailed the Kings for exactly 4:02 of regulation time.
Drew Doughty fired a shot into traffic that deflected off a stick and then off Anze Kopitar, reducing the Sharks’ deficit to 3-1.
Jake Muzzin then got a pass to Jeff Carter, who remained patient with the puck before depositing his shot into the net to make it a one-goal game.
Kris Versteeg scored the game-tying goal with 3:24 left in the second.
Both teams were tied 3-3 after 40 minutes. But the Sharks refused to back down.
Brent Burns made a smooth backhand pass to Donskoi, who scored his second goal of the game to put the Sharks ahead 4-3 early in the third period.
Joe Pavelski took a wrist shot from the circle and beat Jonathan Quick through the five-hole to extend the Sharks’ lead to 5-3 at 12:24.
Melker Karlsson’s empty-net goal with 22 seconds left in regulation led the Sharks to an epic 6-3 comeback win over the Kings in Game 5. Martin Jones made 19 saves for San Jose while Jonathan Quick made 22 saves for Los Angeles.
San Jose won the best-of-7 series 4-1 and eliminated the Kings with a Game 5 victory.
The Sharks shared intriguing thoughts after the game.
“I wonder if they got us where they want us right now,” forward Logan Couture told Sharks beat reporter Curtis Pashelka.
Head coach Peter DeBoer concluded with, “I’m sure some of the guys, they felt like we exorcised some demons tonight. But for the group, it was a well-earned victory.”
San Jose stayed off the ice Thursday before flying to Los Angeles.
Most of the Kings players stayed off the ice Thursday at their practice rink in El Segundo, Calif., but they had a meeting and spent time reviewing some special-teams breakdowns.
Up Next: The Sharks will play either the Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Second Round. The Ducks and Predators series is currently tied 2-2.