"Every game has been close," Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "I'm sure it's not a shock it's come to a Game 7. I'm sure both teams didn't want it to go this far. Right now, it doesn't matter how we win it, just that we win it."
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 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 5-on-3 in the first few minutes was big. We're just trying to slap down the ice but things like that happen," Scuderi said. "We were trying to limit their start in this building but that got the fans into it early and that hurt us."
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.
NOTES: The Kings haven't allowed more than three goals in 32 straight playoff games, starting with last year's run to the Stanley Cup. ... Braun returned in the second period. ... F Adam Burish returned for the Sharks for the first time since breaking his right hand in Game 4 of the first round against Vancouver. ... Niemi got an assist on Galiardi's goal for his first career playoff point. He joins Mike Vernon and Evgeni Nabokov as Sharks goalies to record a point in the playoffs.