The Los Angeles Kings looked dead to rights on Thursday night, trailing 3-2 with less than three minutes to go. Then, in the blink of an eye, the San Jose Sharks committed two penalties, and the Kings were able to take advantage of the breaks, scoring twice in 22 seconds to steal a 4-3 victory away in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis scored the tying and winning goals, respectively, and goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 28 shots to help the Kings hold serve at home and send the series to San Jose with the Sharks in an 0-2 hole.
Here are the Three Stars of the game for the Kings:
Third Star: Trevor Lewis
Lewis was a force on the defensive side of the puck throughout the game, dishing out five hits and helping the Kings to kill off all four power plays that they gave the Sharks, but it was his play on the final goal of the game that earned him this spot.
On the play, the Kings were crashing the net hard, and when Tyler Toffoli fired a puck off of San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi's right pad, Lewis had his stick on the ice and was able to tap in an easy rebound goal to give his team the lead.
Occasionally you'll see guys at various levels of hockey, including the NHL, skate in towards the net with the blade of their stick up in the air, but it's the smart players like Lewis who make sure that they are prepared to pound away if a goalie gives up a rebound, and he was ready when Niemi coughed up a juicy one.
Second Star: Tyler Toffoli
The scoresheet indicates that Toffoli only had one assist in the game, but it was his play throughout the third period that was more noticeable.
With the Kings reeling after giving up a 2-0 lead, Toffoli started the tide back in the right direction with his aggressive pushing of the tempo up the ice. He ended up with five shots on goal in the game, and it was his last one that deflected off of Niemi's pad and allowed Lewis to score the game winning goal.
With only 12:03 of ice time in the game, it would be easy to dismiss Toffoli's contribution, but to those watching the game, it was clear that without his intensity and zest for upping the ante offensively, the Kings may not have gotten out of their funk and gotten out of the Staples Center with a victory.
First Star: Drew Doughty
Doughty has gotten a ton of love during these playoffs for his defensive play, but it was his aptitude on offense on Thursday that was the ultimate difference for the Kings.
His power play goal in the second period gave the Kings a 2-0 lead, a cushion that in normal circumstances would have been good enough. Instead, Doughty had to restart his offensive game when the Sharks scored three unanswered goals, and he did just that on the Kings' third goal. He did not get credit for an assist on Brown's tally, but it was his pass to Mike Richards, rather than shooting the puck from the point, that allowed Brown and Jeff Carter to charge into the play and crash the net hard.
That little bit of extra time that Doughty bought by faking the shot allowed the play to develop, and the ensuing momentum was enough to take the Kings over the top in the game.