Los Angeles chased Antti Niemi with four unanswered goals in the first 20:44 of Game 3. San Jose remarkably roared back to tie the game at five to end the second period. Then Devin Setoguchi capped off the comeback in overtime. All of it equated to an instant classic in Los Angeles on Tuesday night! San Jose’s comeback:
Down 4-0 early in the second period, the Sharks looked dead in the water (no pun intended) as they were staring at back-to-back ugly losses. Antero Niittymaki replaced Niemi in net and the switch seemed to make a difference as they steadily worked their way back into the game with three consecutive goals. When Ryan Smyth made it 5-3 just 15 seconds after Logan Couture’s tally that cut the deficit to one, the Sharks could have waved the white flag. But they didn’t.
Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski each scored in the final two minutes of the period to stunningly tie the game at five. They set a franchise record with five second period goals. In that period, their penalty kill was clutch by staving off a couple Kings power plays to stay within striking distance.
After a defensive-minded and scoreless third period, Setoguchi received a slick cross-ice pass from Patrick Marleau to finish off the improbable victory at 3:09 of overtime.
San Jose, labeled for their playoff failures over the years, showed a ton of character by not giving up and getting back in the game… let alone winning it! It was just the fourth time in playoff history that a team has erased a 4-0 deficit to win a game.
Los Angeles’ collapse:
On the other side of the coin, Los Angeles looked so great for 20-plus minutes, and then took their foot off the gas. No lead is safe in the (new) NHL. A lot of people are going to put the blame on Jonathan Quick. Let’s face it, though: the defense flat-out did not give Quick any help and was lackadaisical. There were too many breakdowns to name.
On the overtime goal, Dustin Penner’s continued lack of hustle bit the Kings in the rear. His man was Setoguchi, and Penner was late getting back to cover him. Penner, who has gone 15 games without scoring, has been a disappointment in L.A. thus far.
I don’t know how this team is going to recover from a devastating loss like this; I’m sure they feel like they have just been punched in the gut. The Anze Kopitar-less Kings have played really well in this series and could easily hold a 3-0 series lead. Instead, they are down 1-2 to the Sharks (both losses in overtime), who now possess all of the momentum and confidence heading into Thursday’s Game 4. Their character will definitely be tested.
This game was a lot easier to watch if you didn’t have any sort of rooting interest! Seeing it unfold was mind-boggling, considering how the Sharks looked when they were down by four.
Many different names have already been attached to this contest on Twitter: “Shocker at Staples”; “Miracle in Manchester Part Two”; “The Flop on Figueroa”. No matter what it ends up being called, it will go down as a stunning comeback by the Sharks and a horrific collapse by the Kings.
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