LOS ANGELES –- The league leader in game-winning goals in the regular season came through with another one in the Sharks’ first game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Joe Pavelski wrapped in his second score of the night just 17 seconds into the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie and putting San Jose ahead to stay in a 4-3 win at Staples Center on Thursday night.
The Sharks’ captain held off Anze Kopitar behind the net before curling the puck through Jonathan Quick. Pavelski led the NHL with 11 game-winning goals.
The Sharks are 10-6 all-time when winning the first game of a playoff series, improving to 17-15 all-time in a Game 1.
In his first career playoff start, Martin Jones made 19 saves. His biggest came with five seconds to go in the second period when he swallowed an Anze Kopitar wrister, and midway through the third when he got the end of his right pad on an Andy Andreoff rebound try.
Meeting for the fourth time in the postseason in the last six years, the Sharks will attempt to take a two-games-to-none lead on the Kings on Saturday at Staples Center.
The Kings struck early. Jake Muzzin controlled the puck in the circle, drew Jones out of the crease, and banked the puck over the line off of Tomas Hertl’s skate at 2:53.
The Sharks were without a shot on goal for the first several minutes, but Pavelski’s low one-timer on a power play whizzed past Quick at 6:25 on San Jose’s first attempt on net.
There was special teams play aplenty in the second period courtesy of a combined five minor penalties, none of which were coincidental, and four total goals.
Brent Burns put San Jose ahead with an even strength marker at 6:50 after a Joel Ward offensive zone faceoff win. The Kings responded with their second goal off of a San Jose player at 7:30, when Jeff Carter flicked a backhand that was headed towards the slot when it redirected off of an outstretched Burns’ stick and fluttered over Jones’ shoulder to make it 2-2.
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Drew Doughty’s hooking minor led to a pair of goals, one for each side, to knot the game at 3-3.
First, Joe Thornton turned the puck over deep in the Sharks’ offensive zone and Trevor Lewis raced the other way on a two-on-one with only Burns defending. Lewis snapped a shot through Jones at 17:18 for a shorthanded score.
The Sharks’ evened it up again 30 seconds later, just one second after Doughty’s penalty expired. Joonas Donskoi’s shot from the circle led to a scramble in front, and Hertl located the disc to slide it through at 17:48, which is where the game remained through the second period.
San Jose went 3-1-1 against the Kings in the regular season, and won both games in Los Angeles.
The Sharks officially went 1-for-4 with a man advantage, although Hertl’s score was essentially a power play marker. San Jose was third in the NHL on the power play in the regular season.
The Kings, the league’s eighth ranked unit in the regular season, went 1-for-3 on the power play to go with their shorthanded score.
Jones, the former Kings backup, had played just 57 total minutes over two playoff games in his career, including mop-up duty in Game 1 of the Sharks-Kings series in 2014.
Quick, who posted a career high 40 wins this season, fell to 45-31 all-time in the playoffs, allowing four goals on 23 shots.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto returned after missing the final 12 games of the regular season with a sprained right knee and right hand injury, respectively.
The Kings got defenseman Alec Martinez back from an undisclosed injury that kept him out for the final four games, although he exited in the third period. Forward Marian Gaborik is still out with a knee injury, but could return at some point in the series.
Game 2 is at Staples Center on Saturday night (7:30 p.m.), before it shifts to San Jose for games three and four on Monday and Wednesday.