Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles fought back from a goal down with less than two minutes to play to stun the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a frenzied finish to Game Two of their Western Conference semi-finals series on Thursday.
With the Kings on a five-on-three powerplay, captain Dustin Brown tied the score with a backhand shot at 18:17 in the third period to spark thunderous roars from a sellout crowd of 18,527 at Staples Center.
Just 22 seconds later, center Trevor Lewis pounced on a loose puck from the left side of an open net for the go-ahead goal and the Kings held on to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player during last season's playoffs, made 28 saves for Los Angeles, who have now won 12 straight games on home ice since March.
Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots for the Sharks, who will have to rebound when the series shifts to San Jose for Game Three on Saturday.
The Kings made a fast start when center Jeff Carter opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the right at 3:06 in the first period. It was his fourth playoff goal this season, and the 25th of his career in the playoffs.
Though the Sharks were initially much busier on offense, the Kings went 2-0 up when defenseman Drew Doughty scored on a powerplay with a slap shot into the upper-left corner at 4:10 in the second period.
However, San Jose cut the deficit when center Patrick Marleau scored with a tip-in on a powerplay a little more than five minutes later after a brilliant sequence of four-way passing.
The Sharks then stunned the Staples Center crowd into near silence by tying the game at 2-2 when defenseman Brad Stuart netted with a slap shot at 14:21 in the second period.
As the towel-waving home fans chanted "Go Kings Go", San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was credited with the goal that put the Sharks 3-2 up at 8:56 of the third, the puck having been deflected through a tangle of bodies.
The Sharks appeared to have the game under control but they paid a heavy price for two late penalties as first Stuart, for tripping, and then Vlasic, for delaying the game by sending the puck over the glass, were both sent to the penalty box.
(By Mark Lamport-Stokes)