LOS ANGELES -- Sweet redemption, indeed. But not without some Sharks-style drama, first. San Jose is off to the second round with a 6-3 win Friday night which knocked out their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in five games.
How it happened: The stage had been set for yet another great Kings comeback story and a Sharks collapse that would have been some kind of storyline for 48 hours before Game 6, with San Jose seeing its 3-0 second-period lead erased and the demons of playoffs past perhaps resurfacing.
When Matt Nieto scored 4:05 into the second period to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead, it felt like the series was won. The Kings at that point had zero life in their game -- they had nothing going and were showing absolutely no indication whatsoever that a three-goal comeback was in the offing against a team that had largely outplayed them in this series.
Then came a Patrick Marleau penalty shot just 1:26 after Nieto’s goal, a chance to really, really bury the Kings once and for all. Marleau missed on a rather weak backhand attempt.
What happened next, well, won’t soon ever be forgotten in these parts. Drew Doughty’s point shot bounced off Dwight King and then off Anze Kopitar's right shin pad to put the Kings on the board at 7:44.
A lucky goal, but they all count. And the Kings had life.
But the Sharks came out composed in the third period and put the Kings away. Finally.
What it means: For therapeutic reasons alone, a five-game series win over the Kings two years after seeing a 3-0 series lead evaporate against their rivals, well, it feels mighty good for a San Jose franchise that was sent for a soul-crushing tailspin after that stunning loss in 2014.
And very importantly, the Sharks didn’t let this series drag out to six or seven games after taking a 3-1 lead and allow the narrative of the 2014 collapse dominate the airwaves and enter their own thoughts.
It wasn’t easy, and they made their fans sweat again, but they got their sweet revenge on L.A.
For the Kings, who missed the playoffs a year ago, the first-round exit is a very, very disappointing result. There will be questions asked about this roster and where it’s headed to get back to being a Cup champion again.