LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Pavelski circled out from behind the net while holding off Anze Kopitar, and the San Jose captain slipped the tiebreaking goal past Jonathan Quick.
He also got the Sharks off to a pretty good start in their quest to erase their memories of the last time they took on the Los Angeles Kings in the postseason.
Pavelski broke a tie with his second goal early in the third period, and the Sharks opened their postseason return with a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.
Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks in their first postseason game since losing four straight to the Kings in 2014, completing a seven-game flop in the first round.
Los Angeles rode the momentum to its second Stanley Cup title, but the longtime rivals both missed the playoffs last year.
“If you can win the first game of a series, it gives you confidence,” Pavelski said. “Still a long way to go. There’s a great team over there, a really solid team.”
The fourth playoff meeting in six seasons between these familiar foes got off to a thrilling start, with both teams trading huge hits and erasing early deficits within seconds of falling behind. The Sharks were observably better in most aspects, and Pavelski made sure they were rewarded.
“It’s just a California series, I think,” said Burns, who had a goal and an assist. “It’s going to be close. It’s going to be grinding. Weird goals both ways. It’s fun.”
Game 2 is Saturday night at Staples Center.
San Jose’s Martin Jones made 19 saves in his first career playoff start. The former Kings backup bested Jonathan Quick, who stopped 19 shots for the Kings.
Trevor Lewis scored a short-handed goal, and Jake Muzzin and Jeff Carter also scored as Los Angeles hung in despite struggling to keep up at times in the two-time champs’ return to the postseason.
San Jose dominated long stretches of play, but Los Angeles kept it close with two goals banked in off the Sharks’ defense.
“I don’t know what the shot total was, but I don’t think it was nearly enough to create second chances,” Kopitar said. “That’s where you gain the momentum, playing in their zone, and we didn’t do enough of that.”
The Sharks got another monster offensive game from Pavelski, their captain and a 38-goal scorer. He put them ahead 17 seconds into the third period with his sharp wraparound goal to beat his U.S. Olympic teammate in net.
“I didn’t know it went in, to be honest,” Pavelski said. “I heard it hit the post. Thought it might be lying there behind Quickie.”
The Kings led the Pacific Division for most of the second half of the season, and they led Winnipeg 3-0 late in the second period of their season finale before blowing the game and the division banner. Los Angeles’ defensive struggles continued in the postseason, giving up seven goals in a 69-minute span dating to that Jets collapse.
“We just weren’t very good,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “Everyone can play better. This is the time of year where you learn from it and go on, and we’ve got a lot left in us.”
The Staples Center fans hadn’t cleared all of the confetti from Kobe Bryant’s 60-point career finale out of their seats from the previous night before Muzzin put the Kings ahead, adroitly banking in a puck off Hertl’s skate. Pavelski evened it with a one-timer on a power play moments later, getting his 27th playoff goal.
Lewis put the Kings ahead 3-2 late in the second period with a long rush and an exceptional toe-drag for a short-handed goal, but Hertl tied it off a scrum 30 seconds later.
NOTES: Joel Ward had two assists for San Jose, and Milan Lucic had two for Los Angeles. ... Kings television play-by-play announcer Bob Miller attended the game 10 weeks after heart bypass surgery. He got a standing ovation when he was shown standing and waving on the scoreboard. The 78-year-old Miller has been the team’s voice for 43 years. ... Alec Martinez returned to the lineup after missing the final four games of the season, but the defenseman who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the Kings’ previous postseason game didn’t play in the third period.