San Jose / CALIFORNIA
The San Jose Sharks are headed back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one season after their streak of 10 postseason appearances ended. On Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks clinched a playoff spot as they defeated the Kings 5-2 at SAP Center on Monday.
Justin Braun scored two goals and Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson each scored for the Sharks (42-28-6), who had lost three straight home games, squandering chances to clinch a playoff berth earlier. Martin Jones made 30 saves against his former team.The Sharks officially clinched a playoff berth minutes before they defeated the Kings when the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2.
“I think one, appropriately, we clinched a playoff spot with a game like that against a team like that,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s kind of been the story all year that we wanted to prove we belonged in that category of team. We feel we do. It was a solid effort, goalie out, and it was nice to win that game.”The Sharks won the season-series 3-2-0 and defeated the Kings at SAP Center for the first time in three tries.Vincent Lecavalier scored two goals for the Kings (45-26-5), and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves.“We had so many opportunities to get goals,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who played his 600th NHL game. “We should have won the game.”
The game was tied 2-2 entering the third period, but Thornton scored on the power play, putting the Sharks ahead for good. Brent Burns sent a wrist shot from the left circle that ricocheted off of Quick. Then Pavelski shot from close range, and the puck bounced off of Quick to Thornton, right of the crease.
Thornton scored his 18th goal on a wrist shot before Quick could get up off the ice.“It’s a good feeling beating them any time,” Braun said. “Guys have confidence seeing them in the playoffs.”