After Patrick Marleau’s fourth career playoff overtime goal silenced Staples Center for maybe the next-to-last time this season, the veteran San Jose Sharks forward attributed his knack for postseason heroics to one simple trait.
"Well, you just try to shoot it on net," Marleau said. "This one was not a hard shot by any means, but you just get it to the net."
That’s how good things happen for Marleau and the Sharks, who weathered the Los Angeles Kings’ best game of the series and emerged on the brink of advancement.
Marleau scored 6:20 into overtime, and the Sharks beat the Kings 4-3 on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 first-round series lead.
Rookie Tomas Hertl tied it with 10:43 left in regulation for the Sharks, who had to grind out a nail-biting victory after two blowout wins in San Jose. But the Sharks have won five straight overtime playoff games and 10 of their past 11, with Marleau repeatedly delivering the decisive blow.
"For Patty Marleau to come up with that goal, it’s just huge for us," captain Joe Thornton said. "It was just going back and forth."
The Kings largely controlled overtime until Marleau’s shot banked off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s stick on its way past Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves in his third straight loss. Marleau’s goal was his third of the series.
"They had the bat in their hands, and they were going to swing it," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "They had us on our heels, but sometimes it goes that way. We will take that break."
Matt Nieto got his first career playoff goal for the Sharks, and Brent Burns also scored. Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots for San Jose, winning three straight in the matchup of Stanley Cup-winning goalies.
Game 4 is Thursday in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has slipped to the brink of first-round elimination just two years after its Stanley Cup title run. The Kings were the NHL’s best defensive team during the regular season, but they’ve allowed 17 goals in the first three games of this series.
Only three teams have ever rallied to win a best-of-seven NHL playoff series after trailing 0-3.
"It was a better effort," said leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who doesn’t have a goal in the series. "We had some chances, but it wasn’t enough. We’re going to have to come back in a couple of days and throw everything at them."
Jeff Carter tipped in a tiebreaking goal for Los Angeles on a power play early in the third period, but Hertl evened it right after a power play expired. San Jose dominated the third, but Quick made 23 saves to send the Kings into their first overtime playoff game at home in three years.
Marian Gaborik scored and Jarret Stoll ended his 29-game playoff goal drought for the Kings, who stumbled back home after opening the series with two disastrous games at the Shark Tank.
The Kings’ nervous fans got quiet early on when Burns partly whiffed on a wrist shot and produced a knuckling puck that sailed past Quick just 10 seconds into a Sharks power play.
Stoll evened it with his first playoff goal in two years early in the second period. Stoll hadn’t found the net in the postseason since his series-clinching overtime goal against Vancouver in 2012.
Gaborik then put the Kings ahead all by himself, lugging the puck from the opposite blue line and beating Niemi with a vicious backhand.
"I think our better players were better," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That was noticeable. That will give us a chance next game."
San Jose evened it 1:18 later when Nieto, from nearby Long Beach, scored into an open net. Quick had been knocked to the ice by Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr moments earlier.
Carter capitalized in the waning seconds of a power play by tipping Anze Kopitar’s shot in front for his first playoff score since Game 2 of last season’s Western Conference finals, ending a personal 393:34 drought.
Hertl converted his own rebound midway through the period to even it again, scoring on the rink where a knee-on-knee hit from Dustin Brown sidelined the Czech rookie for 45 games earlier this season.
NOTES: The Kings scratched F Colin Fraser after recalling the two-time Stanley Cup champion from the AHL earlier in the day. Los Angeles also scratched F Kyle Clifford, who went scoreless with a minus-3 and 16 penalty minutes in the first two games, and D Matt Greene, a minus-4 in the series. … The Kings dressed F Tanner Pearson, who made his NHL playoff debut last season before he had ever played in a regular-season NHL game. … Los Angeles played its 41st playoff game in the past three seasons, the most by any NHL team in that span.