In a battle spearheaded by a pair of Norris Trophy front-runners, it’s Drew Doughty’s Los Angeles Kings that managed to avoid yet another precarious situation Monday.
Two years after having to battle back from a 3-0 series deficit to dispose of the San Jose Sharks in the First round, Doughty’s Kings used an overtime goal from Tanner Pearson Monday night to get their first win in a series led by the Sharks 2-1.
Pearson corralled the puck just outside the Sharks’ blue line following a huge Dustin Brown hit on Joonas Donskoi that allowed Pearson to scamper in on a 2-on-1 he buried himself just 3:47 into the extra period to win the game 2-1.
The shot beat Martin Jones low to silence a SAP Center where the Sharks had one of the league’s worst home records at 18-20-3.
Jones was the Kings’ backup in 2014 when Los Angeles became the fourth team in NHL history to battle back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the series and eventually the Stanley Cup.
He had a 5-1-1 record against his former team until Monday when he faced 24 shots in the loss.
For the second game in a row the Sharks scored on their first shot of the night when Joe Thornton bounced one in off Brayden McNabb just 30 seconds in.
After surviving an early barrage from the hosts, Kings centre Anze Kopitar answered back with his first goal in 15 playoff outings, beating Jones while standing on the top the crease and converting a brilliant pass from Milan Lucic he controlled off a rebound.
Kopitar also rattled one off the post before the period ended.
While the shots were 27-22 for the Sharks after three periods, Jonathan Quick was called upon to make several huge stops denying Donskoi, Chris Tierney and Matthew Nieto. He finished the night with 29 saves.
Doughty also made a sprawling save on the goal-line to prevent Tomas Hertl from putting the Sharks ahead late in the second.
The Kings killed off a couple of power plays late in the third period thanks to a never-ending string of blocked shots and a few stellar saves by Quick, including one off the knob of his stick that robbed Logan Couture from in tight.
Another Norris front-runner, Brent Burns, played more than 27 minutes himself in a stellar effort that saw him run a slick San Jose power play and throw five shots on goal in a game that never saw the veterans on the Kings show any nerves whatsoever.
Game 4 goes Wednesday night in San Jose.
The Sharks core is largely the same as it was two years ago during their monumental meltdown but coach Peter DeBoer is new and has everyone in the room suggesting all week long things are radically different now.
Guess we’re about to find out.