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Strong start gives Sharks series lead
San Jose, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pre-game power outage at SAP Center left the San Jose faithful sitting in the dark as they waited for Thursday's Game 1 to start.
Thankfully for the home crowd, the Sharks lit the lamp early and often.
Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau scored 48 seconds apart late in San Jose's three-goal first period and Antti Niemi notched 31 saves, as the Sharks secured a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in the opener of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
Joe Thornton also tallied in the first, while Raffi Torres and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each scored in the second to give the Sharks a 5-0 lead.
The Kings finally came to life with a three-goal third period, but Niemi made just enough saves down the stretch before Brent Burns buried an empty-netter in the final minute to ensure the Sharks drew first blood in this best-of- seven set.
Vlasic, Hertl and Burns each added an assist, while James Sheppard picked up a pair of helpers for the Sharks, who were bounced from last year's playoffs by the Kings in seven games in the semifinals.
Jake Muzzin, Trevor Lewis and Slava Voynov supplied the goals for Los Angeles, which saw goaltender Jonathan Quick chased after giving up five goals on 28 shots.
Martin Jones stopped all four shots he faced in relief for the Kings, who will look to escape San Jose with a series split when they play Game 2 on Sunday.
Thornton got the Sharks started just over three minutes in, tapping in a Joe Pavelski shot from in front to give San Jose an early edge.
Hertl, who missed over three months of action and 45 games after taking a knee from LA captain Dustin Brown earlier in the season, exacted his revenge in the final minute of the frame when he tapped one home from the low left side off a broken play to make it 2-0 with 51.7 seconds showing.
Marleau capped San Jose's three-goal first frame shortly after when he converted a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Nieto for a 3-0 lead with 3.2 seconds left in the period.
Torres found the back of the net from the high slot 12:57 into the second and Vlasic followed with a power-play goal at 16:29 to give San Jose a 5-0 lead.
Muzzin spoiled Niemi's shutout bid early in the third, as his one-timer from just above the left circle snuck past the San Jose netminder at 2:01.
Voynov beat Niemi far-side from the right faceoff dot at 6:55 to make it 5-2 before Jeff Carter's shot from the left circle ricocheted in off Lewis in front to bring the Kings within two at 13:59.
However, the Kings failed to get anything else past Niemi and Burns registered an empty-netter at 19:05 to account for the final margin.
The home team is 21-1-1 in the last 23 games between these two teams ... Hertl had 15 goals and 10 assists in 37 games during his rookie campaign this year ... LA finished 0-for-3 on the power play.
04/18 01:59:55 ET
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