LOS ANGELES — Even after two lopsided victories, the Sharks kept saying it wouldn’t be easy coming into the Staples Center and taking Game 3 from the Los Angeles Kings.
They were right. It wasn’t.
But a backhand goal by Patrick Marleau at 6:20 of overtime Tuesday night gave the Sharks a 4-3 victory over the Kings and a commanding 3-0 lead of their first-round, best-of-seven playoff series.
“Coming into the room, we felt good,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of the mood at the end of regulation. “Our best period was the third and we thought we could roll it over in the overtime. Our group just felt comfortable that someone was going to be the hero tonight and thank goodness it was Patty.”
Los Angeles was the more desperate team, needing the win to get back into the series. And Sharks goalie Antti Niemi needed to make five overtime saves to get to the point where Marleau could end the game on San Jose’s first shot of the extra period.
That play that led to the game-winner began when defenseman Scott Hannan dumped the puck deep into the Kings zone where Joe Pavelski pursued it.
“Pav got his stick on the puck and I was able to come up off the boards, kick it to my stick and get off a quick shot,” said Marleau of his 60th goal and 101st point of his playoff career.
The puck deflected off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s stick, goalie Jonathan Quick’s glove and into the net for the Sharks’ fifth consecutive playoff overtime win and 10th in the last 11 opportunities.
This game was as tight as the others were lopsided with neither team taking more than a one-goal lead at any time. The Sharks got their regulation goals from Brent Burns and rookies Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl while the Kings offense came from Jarret Stoll, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter.
The first two games of the series got the NHL’s attention — not because the Sharks won both, but because they beat the NHL’s stingiest regular-season team by a combined score of 13-5. With the win, the Sharks became the only Western Conference team to jump out to a 3-0 lead as the three other series are all at 2-1.
The Sharks needed only 11 seconds of their first power play to take a 1-0 lead when Burns misfired on a shot and the puck fluttered over Quick’s glove and into the net to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 3:16 of the first period.
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