Kings complete historic comeback with 5-1 Game 7 win over Sharks
A week ago, things looked rather grim for the Los Angeles Kings. They’d just dropped Game 3 of their opening round playoff series to the San Jose Sharks, and were now staring at a 3-0 deficit- something only three other teams in NHL history had overcome.
Los Angeles avoided a sweep and won Game 4 on home ice by a score of 6-3. The series then shifted back to San Jose for Game 5, where the Kings denied the Sharks a chance to clinch the series with a 3-0 win, cutting San Jose’s lead to three games to two. L.A. picked up a 4-1 win in Game 6, staving off elimination to draw even in the series.
And last night, with a 5-1 win over San Jose in Game 7, the Kings joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers as the only four teams to ever dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole and go on to win an NHL playoff series. Jonathan Quick, the MVP of the Kings’ Stanley Cup run two years ago, stopped 39 of the 40 shots he faced, and the Kings picked up goals from Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson to eliminate the Sharks in one of the most incredible comebacks in NHL playoff history.
Almost as intriguing as the Kings’ comeback is the Sharks’ collapse. San Jose has not missed the playoffs since the 2002-03 season, but they have never reached the Stanley Cup finals. Ever the bridesmaid and never the bride, the Sharks have been to three Western Conference finals in the past ten seasons (’03-’04, ’09-’10, ’10-11), but lost convincingly to the Flames (4-2), Blackhawks (4-0) and Canucks (4-1).
Their window for contention never seems to be quite shut, but nor have they ever been able to quite get through it. They have an aging core with guys like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle, all of whom are in their mid-30’s, but also a strong group of young contributors like Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Marc Edouard-Vlasic who seem ready to carry the Sharks into another stretch of perennial contention. They’ve made the playoffs ten straight years, and could very well make it for the next ten years. But are they doomed to continue the same Sisyphean cycle? This latest failure certainly makes one doubt if the Sharks will ever be able to be anything but an also-ran in the near future.
The Kings will face the Ducks in the Western Conference semifinals, a series that will get underway Saturday, May 3.