The Los Angeles Kings held two separate leads in Game 3 on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks, but they ended up coughing them both up as they fell in a 4-3 overtime loss. The defeat puts the Kings on the brink of elimination, and the Sharks smell blood in the water as they will go for the sweep on Thursday night.
The third period of the game Tuesday was really the defining period of the entire series for the Kings. It started out really well (just like Game 2 did) as Los Angeles scored less than a minute into the frame. Anze Kopitar made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, and skated it back along the boards before firing it in towards the net. Jeff Carter tipped it, and the goal not only set off the Staples Center crowd but also gave the Kings a 3-2 lead.
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Following that goal though, it was the Sharks who ended up grabbing the momentum and running with it. In the third period alone, the Sharks attempted 33 shots against Jonathan Quick, putting 23 of them on net. The Kings' goaltender did a tremendous job amid the barrage of shots that he was facing, stopping 22 of them as he helped the Kings sneak into overtime with the game still tied. In fact, the only goal that Quick gave up was a second-chance opportunity off the stick of Tomas Hertl, who stuck around the front of the net untested as he hacked at the puck. Finally, it sneaked in past Quick's right pad, and with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, things were tied up at 3-3.
A few minutes later, Quick had to make two incredible saves to keep things tied up. After stopping a Brent Burns shot, Quick had to deal with Joe Thornton, who managed to get his stick on the rebound and flipped it back toward the net. Sprawling across the crease in a full-on splits, Quick snared the shot out of midair and collected it as several Shark sticks took whacks at his glove, but he held onto it to keep the game tied.
Late in the period, the Sharks got a power play with about two minutes left, and they picked up a couple of really good opportunities. Joe Pavelski and Burns both had great one-timer chances thanks to some solid puck movement by the Sharks, but Quick continued to stymie the attack, using his quick movements laterally in the crease to keep the puck out of the net. The former Conn Smythe winner had a few tricks left up his sleeve in the closing seconds too, as he denied both Jason Demers (initial shot) and Logan Couture (rebound one-timer) to send the game to overtime.
Unfortunately for Quick, bad luck ended up ending his night as the overtime got underway. The Kings got the first five shots of the extra stanza, but when Patrick Marleau's back-handed shot deflected off of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, Quick couldn't make the adjustment as the puck floated over him and into the net, ending the game and likely putting one more nail in the coffin of the Kings' season.
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The Kings have seemingly tried everything in this series to get the better of the Sharks. They've come out of the gate strong, they've tried to ratchet up their physicality, and they've tried matching San Jose's speed, and none of it seems to be working. Quick has been working his tail off in the crease, but he has faced so many shots that he's simply getting overwhelmed by the ferocity of the Shark attack. The third period in Game 3 provided some great glimpses of Quick's ability to change games with his skill, but when a team allows the kind of quality and uncontested chances that the Kings surrendered to the Sharks on Tuesday, it's not a surprise that they ended up killing Los Angeles in the end.
If Quick can play on Thursday like he did in this game, then the Kings have a great chance to win. Unfortunately for both the goaltender and his teammates though, a lot of things are going to have to go right for them in order to climb back into this series, and if the third period on Tuesday is any indication, there isn't a cavalry on the way to rescue the troops this time.