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Regular season ends with win
Sharks secure 7th seed with 3-2 OT win
4/7/12 - By Mike Lee -

With the division title locked up by the Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the evening, the Sharks were playing for either the 7th or 8th seed in the West on Saturday night. Facing the Los Angeles Kings on the tail end of their home-and-home series, San Jose overcame a two-goal deficit in the 3rd period, winning in overtime on Dan Boyle's 2nd goal of the game. The victory setup a first round date with the St Louis Blues to kick off the Stanley Cup playoffs.

San Jose may want to reconsider their decision to win on Saturday night, given their performance versus the Blue this season. The Sharks lost all four games with the Blues this season, scoring 3 goals total against one of the stingiest defenses in the league.

Too bad Los Angeles isn't their 1st round opponent. San Jose won the season series 4 games to 2, including San Jose's entertaining come from behind win on the NHL's last day of the regular season.

"I think we learned, even as an old guy you still learn every year, what works and what doesn't," said Boyle. "We showed a lot of character the last four [or] five games; getting behind in games and winning on the road. [Now] it does start all over. We want to erase what we've done against St. Louis this year because it wasn't very good. We get a clean slate with them , but it's going to be really demanding and a hard fought series."

Things looked dicey for the Sharks early. The first 40 minutes of the contest looked like a disheveled mess. The opening period was a microcosm of all that ills the Sharks. Surrendering the first goal, giving up a power play tally and failing to counter punch were all wrapped into the 1st period.

A Martin Havlat slashing penalty at 9:36 of the opening period setup a Justin Williams power play goal. Williams redirected a Jarret Stoll pass from the left wing boards as he skated through the slot. Traffic in front prevented Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi from even seeing the puck as it flew past him.

The Kings continued to push the line on suspect hits, starting with a Mike Richards boarding infraction with 3:36 to play in the 2nd period. Richards caught Logan Couture between the numbers, pasting the Sharks young forward face-first into the penalty box glass.

San Jose didn't convert and then back themselves into a corner when Havlat took a tripping penalty at 18:14.

Where the Sharks power play unit failed, the Kings special teams excelled. The Kings converted their 2nd power play goal of the game with 56 seconds left in the period. Richards converted on the ensuing power play, putting a backhand chance past Niemi after Williams tried to jam a shot pas the Sharks goaltender from the slot.

Thomas Greiss opened the 3rd period between the pipes for San Jose, eventually earning the win after making a paltry 6 saves.

"The Greiss and Niemi thing was something we'd talked about," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "Thomas hadn't played in a while and depending on the outcome of the Phoenix game and what was happening in our game, we talked about potentially giving him a period. Going back to the playoffs last year, Nemo played really well, but we did need another goaltender at some point. The switch was to give Greiss an opportunity to play, and it was also to shake things up a little bit. It had nothing to do as far as [sic] Nemo's reflection on his play."

The Sharks cut the Kings lead in half just 35 seconds into the 3rd period. Boyle took a lateral feed from Havlat in the high slot, before ripping a shot that beat Jonathan Quick as Couture cut across the top of the crease.

Kings public enemy number one, Matt Greene, was sent off for boarding 8 minutes into the period. Rather than retaliate, the Sharks got even on the scoreboard. Patrick Marleau threw a puck on net from the blueline, that seemed to handcuff Quick. The puck floated over Quick's right shoulder to give Marleau his 4th consecutive 30-goal season.

The overtime period lasted 4 minutes, but only a single shot was taken. Boyle dished the puck to Havlat along the left wing boards as the two skated into the Kings zone. Havlat then returned the pass as Bohyle skated across the left dot. The defenseman flipped a backhand attempt that beat Quick high to the stick side and the Sharks were celebrating.

"The last four or five games, there wasn't much time out there where there weren't smiles on our faces because we were having a great time playing," said Couture. "It's a battle against this team - and against Dallas as well. Two great teams that we like to play against; so, fun hockey. It's also the best time of the year. It's so much fun out there, going into the playoffs and playing in loud buildings, especially here. The fans were really into it. Like I said, [it's] just the best time of the year to play hockey."

Game Notes:

Marleau joined Couture and Joe Pavelski in the 30-goal club, marking the first time the Shark shad three 30-goal scorers. Pavelski had his face opened up in the 2nd period when he took a puck off his face. He was stitched up and returned to the ice at the start of the 3rd period. Douglas Murray had 10 hits, topping his own franchise record for hits in a game.


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Scoring
1 2 3 OT T
LA 1 1 0 0 2
SJ 0 0 2 1 3
1st period - 1, LA, Williams 22 (Stoll, Martinez), 1:09, (pp).
2nd period - 2, LA, Richards 18 (WIlliams, Mitchell), 19:04, (pp).
3rd period - 3, SJ, Boyle 8 (Havlat, Couture), 0:35. 4, SJ, Marleau 30 (Pavelski, Couture), 8:14, (pp).
Overtime - 5, SJ, Boyle 9 (Havlat), 3:58
Penalties
1st period - Havlat, SJ (slashing), 9:36.
2nd period - Nolan, LA (slashing), 15:46; Richards, LA (boarding), 16:24; Havlat, SJ (tripping), 18:14; Williams, LA (roughing), 19:04; Havlat, SJ (roughning), 19:04; Vlasic, SJ (roughing), 19:04.
3rd period - Stoll, LA (holding the stick), 4:40; Greene, LA (boarding), 8:01.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
LA - Quick 23 10
SJ - Niemi 25 23
SJ - Greiss 6 6
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
LA 15 10 6 0 31
SJ 5 9 8 1 23
Power Play Conversion
LA 2 of 2
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Dan Boyle
Patrick Marleau
Justin Williams
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Furlatt, meier. Linesmen: Devorski, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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