LOS ANGELES — After starting the second period on such a high note Tuesday night, the Kings hit rock bottom before it ever ended.
The San Jose Sharks scored five goals in the second period to tie the score in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal, then won it, 6-5, on Devin Setoguchi's overtime goal, sending a shell-shocked Staples Center crowd walking slowly to the exits.
“That’s as bad as it gets in the second period,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “We did this to ourselves.”
In the opening minute of the second period, the Kings extended their lead to four goals against the second-seeded Sharks, but then seemed to throw their gears into neutral, becoming helpless to stem San Jose’s surge.
Patrick Marleau slipped one by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to cut the deficit to 4-1.
No harm done.
Two minutes later, Dustin Penner went to the penalty box for an unnecessary roughing penalty at center ice. Ryan Clowe scored on the ensuing power play to cut the lead in half.
The crowd started gettig antsy.
With about 6 ½ minutes remaining in the period, Logan Couture gathered in a cross-pass from Ian White and slammed it into the side of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3.
The crowd was no longer in a festive mood.
The Kings then got some energy back when Ryan Smyth scored 13 seconds later to retake a two-goal lead, but the Sharks turned Staples Center into a library when Clowe scored with 1:25 left in the period, followed by Joe Pavelski's goal with 31 seconds showing on the clock, putting the game back at square one and leaving the crowd gasping.
The Kings had not allowed five goals in a period all season.
“It was a great start,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. “Even at the start of the second period we did some things. … After that, I thought we showed a lot of immaturity the way we played.”
San Jose swapped goalies after the Kings took a 4-0 lead, but San Jose coach Todd McClellan said the switch wasn’t the reason for the turnaround.
“We went in between the first and second [periods] and we talked,” he said. “We wanted to bring a little more passion and a better work ethic than we had in Game 2.”
The Sharks lost the second game of the series, 4-0, on Saturday night, then fell behind, 3-0, after one period of Game 3. They didn’t pack it in, however.
“We had a good first, but it’s the playoffs and we didn’t do the things that made us successful in the first two games,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown. “A lot of it was the result of not getting the puck deep, so we only have ourselves to blame.”
The Kings and their fans will have two days to regroup, as Game 4 is Thursday night back at Staples Center.