LOS ANGELES -- Kings coach Terry Murray called it the most critical point in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Kings were awarded a five-minute power play with the score tied and about 3½ minutes remaining in regulation Monday night against the San Jose Sharks.
L.A. didn’t score in regulation and couldn’t come close after the man advantage carried over into overtime.
Less than a minute after killing the penalty, the Sharks decided they’d seen enough of the Kings, and Joe Thornton poked in the winning goal, ending the Kings’ season with a 4-3 victory at Staples Center, their third overtime win of the series.
“We had a chance to put it away,” Murray said of the five-minute power play.
The loss was even more agonizing because Kings defenseman Drew Doughty thought he had scored the winner in the final minute of regulation during a scramble in front of the goal crease, but the puck was knocked away just before it sailed into the net.
“I got a whack at the puck and I don’t really know where it went because I couldn’t see, but I thought it went in,” Doughty said. “I started to celebrate.”
From the Kings bench, it also appeared the Kings had won.
“There was celebrations going on, people were throwing their arms in the air,” Murray said. “I thought it was over.”
The Kings were awarded the five-minute major penalty after Brad Richardson was checked into the boards by San Jose winger Jamie McGinn, cutting Richardson's right temple area and resulting in a major charging penalty and a game misconduct for McGinn.
“I saw him coming but he kind of elbowed me right in the face,” Richardson said. “It’s one of those things they’re trying to take out of the league. … I’m sure the league will deal with it appropriately.”
If McGinn does face further disciplinary action, such as a suspension, his loss will hardly be felt by the Sharks. He played in only one other playoff game -- a 3-1 victory by the Kings in Game 5 -- and totaled just one goal during the regular season.
It was a rough night overall for Richardson. He finished minus-4 for the game and also had some teeth knocked out when he was struck with a high stick by Thornton in the second period. The Kings managed to capitalize on that four-minute power play when Justin Williams put back a rebound off Jack Johnson's wrist shot to tie the score 1-1.
“It was a rough game on the face,” said Richardson, blood still trickling down his right cheek.
Ryan Smyth added another power-play goal early in the third period to tie the score 2-2, but the Sharks tightened up their penalty kill down the stretch.
Kings captain Dustin Brown said the theme of the series was missed opportunities, who lost all three games at home.
“We had a 4-0 lead at home in Game 3 and two other overtime games and were right there,” he said. “The difference between winning and losing is that small. They found ways to get goals in OT and we didn’t. Right now that’s the difference.”
A difference the Kings will have to ponder for the next five months.