SAN JOSE, Calif. — Joe Pavelski once again stepped up for the San Jose Sharks in a big moment in the postseason.
Pavelski scored 14:44 into overtime for the final momentum swing in a roller-coaster game that saw each team dominate for long stretches before the Sharks pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their all-California opening-round playoff series Thursday night.
“It feels good to score,” Pavelski said. “We’re trying to get to four wins in this series. You have to get the first one. We’re on our toes a little bit more now. And whatever jitters we had are out now.”
Pavelski made sure of that. He took a pass from Kyle Wellwood as the trailer on a three-on-two advantage and fired a forehand past Jonathan Quick for his third career playoff overtime goal.
Pavelski scored nine goals in San Jose’s first eight playoff games a year ago, including a late equalizer in Game 2 of the opening round against Colorado and the overtime winner in Game 4 of that series.
“Pavs is a tremendous player for us,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We count on him in so many situations. He’s really recognized at this time of year as a guy who steps up his play and scores some huge goals.”
Dany Heatley and Logan Couture also scored and Ryane Clowe had three assists for the Sharks, who had lost five of their previous six series openers. Antti Niemi made 33 saves.
Dustin Brown and Justin Williams scored for the Kings, who have won just one playoff series since going to the Stanley Cup Finals with Wayne Gretzky in 1993. Quick made 42 saves.
“We were one shot away,” Quick said. “We had our chances. Niemi made a few big saves for them, and at the end of the day, they got one more than we did so we got to refocus. It’s in the past at this point. We’ve got to learn from it.”
Game 2 is Saturday in San Jose.
The Sharks dominated early before the Kings took control of the game from midway through the second period to the midpoint of the third. Then each team had good chances late in regulation and in a sloppy overtime, with the two goalies doing their best to keep things tied.
Niemi made a spectacular sliding pad save to rob Kyle Clifford early in the third and then got lucky early in overtime when Brad Richardson poked a rebound just wide from the side of the net.
The Kings killed off a penalty late in the third and then got a couple of big saves by Quick in overtime before Pavelski’s game winner sent the fans at the Shark Tank into delirium.
The crowd was in a frenzy starting in pregame warm-ups for just the third all-California playoff series in NHL history, waving white pompoms and chanting “Beat L.A.!”
Before the fans could settle down, San Jose jumped to the early lead when Heatley scored off a rebound 28 seconds into the game, the fastest postseason goal in Sharks history.
After being dominated for the first 26 minutes of the game, when they were outshot 18-3, the Kings responded, with Brown’s one-timer tying the game at 1.
Couture powered the puck through Quick’s pads a few minutes later to put the Sharks back on top.
But Los Angeles dominated play for the rest of the second period, getting the equalizer when Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle collided with Ryan Smyth behind the net. Williams, who missed the last nine games of the regular season with a dislocated right shoulder, came up with the loose puck and tucked it into the net.