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Thornton closes out series with OT thriller
Sharks kill 5 minute major late then finish off the Kings
4/25/11 - By Mike Lee -

Joe Thornton has taken a lot of heat during his career for not delivering in the playoffs. Jumbo was extra large on Monday night, as he scored an overtime goal to help the San Jose Sharks close out their first round series with the Los Angeles Kings in improbably fashion. The Sharks were tagged with a 5 minute penalty late in regulation, but they survived the infraction and then ended the Kings season on Thornton's game winner.

Thornton swept home a deflection off Patrick Marleau 2:22 into overtime. Devin Setoguchi carried the puck around the back of the Kings net, before slicing to the left circle to try and get a shot off. The puck kicked off Marleau's skate and rainbowed across the top of the crease to Thornton who had his back to the goal. The Sharks captain used his long reach to get his stick blade on the puck and deposit arguably the biggest goal in his career.

Things looked bleak for San Jose late in regulation. The Kings got the gift of the playoffs when Jamie McGinn was assessed a 5-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct for a hit on Brad Richardson along the right wing boards with 3:23 left in the 3rd period. McGinn came across the ice and was facing Richardson when he applied the hit. Richardson saw it coming and tried to duck the check, but was spun into the boards.

The one saving grace was that the penalty was split by the 3rd intermission. The Sharks had surrendered two power play goals earlier in the contest, so the 5-minute penalty looked like the Kings were setup to send the series back to Northern California.

San Jose was able to get out of the 3rd period, then kill the remainder of the penalty with fresh legs at the start of overtime.

The rest, as they say, is history.

As for the rest of the game, it was the nail-biter that everyone expected at the start of the series. Every time the Sharks scored, the Kings had an answer. Los Angeles tied the game three times.

With the series on the line, both teams played tentatively in the first 5 minutes of the contest.

The Sharks put a mad rush on the Kings net with 8 minutes remaining in the period, swarming around Jonathan Quick. They put several shots on goal, but the Kings goaltender was up to the task early.

Kings head coach Terry Murray didn't like what he was seeing through the opening dozen minutes, so he burned his timeout early. Part of his discontent was centered around the fact that the Kings had one shot on goal through that point in the game.

The Kings would generate their next shot a minute later, but they never got anything dangerous near Antti Niemi. The Sharks controlled the puck in the offensive zone for a majority of the period.

The closest San Jose came to scoring was an Ian White shot that was deflected off the left post with 5 minutes to play in the period.

The Sharks continued their trend of putting plenty of rubber on Quick, but nothing went in the net. They would outshoot the Kings 16-5 in the period, but the game remained scoreless through the 1st intermission.

Willie Mitchell put his team in a hole 18 seconds into the 2nd period by slashing the stick out of Setoguchi's hands to earn a 2 minute stay in the penalty box. San Jose looked tentative with the puck, putting a single shot on goal.

Kyle Wellwood just missed on a backhand chance a minute after Mitchell's penalty expired, but the Sharks retained possession of the puck in the Kings zone. Joe Thornton held the puck along the goal line near the right corner, then slid a pass to Wellwood in the slot for the one-time chance. Wellwood wouldn't miss on his second chance, bagging his 1st goal of the playoffs with a shot that want top shelf.

Ryane Clowe was late to get his stick on the puck with a wide open net two minutes later, allowing the Kings to sweep the puck to safety.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi got a scare when Niclas Wallin's skate caught him in the face. Scuderi was able to skate off on his own power, but replays showed that the blade missed his eye by inches.

Matt Greene put the Sharks back on the power play at 6:44 for tossing the puck over the glass, but once again the San Jose power play could not generate any pressure on Quick.

The Sharks got themselves into a pickle midway through the period when Thornton was called for a high sticking double minor. Thornton's stick was lifted by Wayne Simmonds, causing the blade to catch Brad Richardson in the mouth.

The Sharks killed off the first two minutes of the penalty, but a Jack Johnson slap-shot deflected off Niemi to Justin Williams near the right dot. Niemi was late to slide over to his left, as Williams whipped a 15-foot shot into the goal to tie the game at 1-1.

Ryan Smyth just missed putting the Kings up after another shot deflected away from the Sharks netminder. This time the put back was gobbled up by Niemi who was laying on his side.

San Jose retook the lead with 3:08 left in the period off a Jason Demers wrist shot from the top of the right circle. Joe Pavelski created the chance by muscling off a check near the left corner, before whipping a pass through the slot to Demers on the far side.

The Kings scored the equalizer 18 seconds into the 3rd period after Jarret Stoll put a shot off Niemi's pad and Smyth was there to tap home the rebound. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle failed to tie Smyth up on his way to the net, which allowed the Kings forward to roam at the top of the crease.

San Jose retook the lead at 8:48 of the period on a Dany Heatley rocket from the left circle after Ryane Clowe made a weak pass to along the Kings blueline. Heatley fought off a Kings defender to gain possession before taking two strides and cranking a slap shot past Quick.

Jason Demers committed a foolish penalty in front of his own net to draw an interference penalty at 9:43. Los Angeles used the opportunity to re-tie the game, when Trevor Lewis deposited a deflection off the stick of Wallin.

Drew Doughty nearly decapitated Devin Setoguchi with a cross check at 13:59, to put the Sharks on the power play for the third time. They would squander the chance by moving the puck, but holding it when there were clear shooting lanes.

The last five minutes of the game was setup for a fantastic playoff storyline, but the McGinn penalty tarnished it all. Questionable at best.

When Quick figured out the game winner was past him, he dropped face down on the ice, similar to the two other overtime losses he suffered in the series.

Game Notes


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1 2 3 1OT T
SJ 0 2 1 1 4
LA 0 1 2 0 3
1st period - None
2nd period - 1, SJ, Wellwood 1 (Thornton), 2:58. 2, LA, Williams 2 (Johnson, Lewis), 13:27, (pp). 3, SJ, Demers 2 (Pavelski, Mitchell), 16:52.
3rd period - 4, LA, Smyth 2 (Stoll), 0:18. 5, SJ, Heatley 2 (unassisted), 8:48. 6, LA, Lewis 1 (Stoll, Martinez), 11:39, (pp).
1st Overtime - 7, SJ, Thornton 2 (Marleau, Setoguchi), 2:22
1st period - None.
2nd period - Mitchell, LA (slashing), 0:18; Greene, LA (delay of game - puck over glass), 6:44; Thornton, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 11:13.
3rd period - Demers, SJ (interference), 9:43; Doughty, LA (high sticking), 13:59; McGinn, SJ (chargin major), 16:37; McGinn, SJ (game misconduct), 16:37.
1st Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 29 26
LA - Quick 35 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 1OT T
SJ 16 13 5 1 35
LA 5 13 11 0 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
LA 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Trevor Lewis
Joe Pavelski
Referees: O'Halloran, Pochmara. Linesmen: Heyer, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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