LOS ANGELES – Joonas Donskoi scored two goals, including the game-winner in the third period, and the San Jose Sharks stunned the Kings 6-3, in Game Five at Staples Center on Friday, eliminating Los Angeles from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The thrilling game was a roller coaster ride of emotions after the Sharks scored the game's first three goals, only to see the Kings come all the way back with three unanswered goals of their own in the second period.
But the resilient Sharks had revenge on their mind and finished L.A. off with a three-goal spurt of their own to seal the Kings fate.
The Kings -- like they have most of the series -- trailed early as the Sharks scored in the opening minutes for the third time.
"We were chasing the lead all the time pretty much every game, with the exception of game one when we scored first and we were chasing the lead the rest of the way," added Kings assistant captain Anze Kopitar. "You just can't do that."
Donskoi scored his first goal of the postseason as he patiently waited for teammate Logan Couture to block Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and the rookie sniped it far post.
The Sharks made it 2-0 on a similar play ten minutes later. This time, it was Tommy Wingels who blocked Quick's eye line in front of the net as center Chris Tierney fired past Quick.
Things went from bad to worse as the Sharks went on the power play, and then had a 5-on-3 advantage after Dustin Brown uncharacteristically tripped Sharks goalie Martin Jones on his way down the ice. Thankfully, the Kings killed both penalties, and ended the first period trailing 2-0.
San Jose scored to open the third period as the Sharks out hustled the Kings in front of the net, scoring in a fashion that was a signature of their opponents. San Jose put traffic in front of the net, and Long Beach product, Matt Nieto, scored when Joel Ward found him open in the crease for the Sharks third goal.
Everything went wrong for Los Angeles as Patrick Marleau was awarded a penalty shot a few minutes later when he was tripped by defenseman Jake Muzzin on a breakaway. But, Marleau got too fancy on the penalty and Quick stopped the shot, shifting momentum to the Kings.
"Throughout the last couple of years, things have been said by players on that team that to me, personally, I take it as disrespectful," Couture told the Associated Press. "So it was nice to stick it back to them and beat them in this series. Even this series, someone was saying on their team that they had us right where they wanted us. I wonder if they've got us where they want us right now? So it was nice to beat them."
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Minutes later, the Kings got on the scoreboard after a Drew Doughty slapshot deflected off the skate of a Sharks defenseman and then off Anze Kopitar's skate and into the net. The lucky bounce was just what L.A. needed to get back in the game.
Four minutes later, Jeff Carter scored the Kings second goal of the game after a great pass from Muzzin found Carter in front of the net as he lifted his shot past Jones.
The Kings came all the way back to tie the game at 3-3 when Kris Versteeg got his stick on a Kyle Clifford slapshot to score his first goal of the postseason and tie the game.
Los Angeles had the momentum entering the third period, but San Jose stole it away with the go-ahead goal just 3:58 into the final third. Clutter in front of the Kings net led to a loose puck that was picked up by Sharks' defenseman Brent Burns who sent a no-look back pass to Donskoi for the backbreaking goal.
Kings' killer Joe Pavelski added an insurance goal midway through the final period when his shot went through the five-hole, a save that Jonathan Quick needed to make.
The Sharks avenge their 2014 loss to Los Angeles in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A series San Jose led 3-0, before the Kings won four straight games to eliminate their rivals. They await the winner of the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
"I'm sure for some guys, they felt like we exorcised some demons tonight," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "But for the group in general, it was just a well-earned victory."
Meanwhile, the Kings enter the offseason with a tall task of improving their defense around All-Star Drew Doughty. The injury to Alec Martinez in Game One was substantial to this series, and the loss of Slava Voynov two seasons ago is a need the L.A. front office still needs to address.
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