SAN JOSE -- This series, considered a toss-up before it began, was decidedly not in its opening 40 minutes.
The San Jose Sharks reeled off five consecutive goals in the first two periods and defeated the Los Angeles Kings 6-3 in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series Thursday night at SAP Center.
After being thoroughly dominated in the first two periods, the Kings rallied with three goals in the third and will try carry that play into Game 2 in this building Sunday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-W, CSN-CA).
Joe Thornton put the Sharks in front 3:06 into the opening period. Brent Burns chased down the puck in the left corner to negate an icing call, and eventually turned and skated it behind the net. Burns one-handed a pass with Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr marking him to the slot, and Thornton deflected Joe Pavelski's low backhanded attempt near the edge of the crease past Jonathan Quick.
The Sharks carried the play for much of the period as the Kings struggled with turnovers and missed passes in the neutral zone. San Jose struck twice in the final minute before the first intermission. Both goals came on transition plays and on fortunate bounces.
The Sharks caught the Kings off guard again when Sheppard intercepted the puck at the San Jose blue line and ignited a 2-on-1 the other way. Matthew Nieto whiffed on a one-timer from Patrick Marleau, but he regrouped and slid a pass back to Marleau for a goal with 3.2 seconds left in the period and a 3-0 lead at the break.
Torres, who missed the last 17 games of the regular season with an injury, made it 4-0 at 12:57 of the second period. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic retrieved the puck from the San Jose end of the ice while both teams changed players, but the Kings were slow to pressure him as he skated into the Los Angeles zone. Vlasic's shot rang off the post behind Quick, and Torres was able to corral the loose puck in the high slot and snap one past the goaltender.
Vlasic made it 5-0 on the power play with 3:31 remaining in the period. San Jose's Jason Demers thwarted a potential shorthanded breakaway by Mike Richards at one end; on the return rush, Hertl set up a trailing Vlasic on a 4-on-3 at the other end for a shot through Quick's legs.
Rookie Martin Jones replaced Quick to start the third period, and the Kings came to life.
A pair of young defensemen put shots through screens early in the third period. Jake Muzzin's shot from the left side beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at 2:01 after a drop pass from Anze Kopitar. Slava Voynov cut the lead to 5-2 at 6:55 when he knocked down a clearing attempt by Niemi and shrugged off a check from Sheppard before snapping in a shot from the right circle.
Jeff Carter's shot from the left wing went off Trevor Lewis with 6:01 remaining the third, and this blowout was suddenly a two-goal game at 5-3. But Burns hit the empty net from near his own blue line with 54.7 seconds to seal the victory.