Final OT

Series (Game 6 of 6)

San Jose leads 5-0

Game 1: Friday, December 26th
Kings0Final
Sharks5
Game 2: Saturday, December 27th
Sharks4Final
OT
Kings4
Game 3: Saturday, March 13th
Kings1Final
Sharks3
Game 4: Thursday, March 18th
Sharks5Final
Kings3
Game 5: Wednesday, March 31st
Sharks3Final
Kings0
Game 6: Sunday, April 4th
Kings3Final
OT
Sharks4

Kings 3

(28-29-9, 81 pts)

Sharks 4

(43-21-6, 104 pts)

4:00 PM ET, April 4, 2004

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 OT T
LA 1 0 2 03
SJ 1 0 1 24

B. Stuart (Sharks - D): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

A. Korolyuk (Sharks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. McCauley (Sharks - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Sharks face Blues in first round of playoffs

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks found one more marvel in their bottomless bag.

Brad Stuart tied the game with two goals in the final 20 seconds of regulation, and Vincent Damphousse scored with 3:10 into overtime to send San Jose into the playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

With three goals in 3{ minutes, the Sharks capped the best season in franchise history with a stunning comeback in both teams' season finales. The Pacific Division champions, seeded second in the Western Conference with 43 victories and 104 points, wound up with the NHL's third-best record one year after finishing 25th.

"That's sort of the way we've done it all season: We find a lot of ways to surprise you," Stuart said. "We're not a surprise to ourselves, though. Nobody has really expected us to do much all year, but as long as we're confident in this room, that's all that matters."

San Jose will face St. Louis in the first round, expected to start Thursday.

The Kings took a 3-1 lead in the third period on goals by Jaroslav Modry and John Tripp, but the Sharks rallied by pulling goalie Evgeni Nabokov in the final minute after Luc Robitaille was called for holding.

Stuart got his first goal on a slap shot with 20 seconds left -- and with time running out, the defenseman charged the net and slammed home a centering pass from Damphousse with 2.3 seconds to play, sending the sellout crowd at the Shark Tank into bedlam.

Stuart's two goals in 17 seconds set a franchise record for the Sharks, who won for the sixth time in seven games.

"There wasn't much at stake for both clubs, but we did what we needed to do," Damphousse said. "I think we were waiting for Thursday to step it up, but we got started with this one."

Damphousse won it in overtime, beating goalie Roman Cechmanek from the slot for his 12th goal. The crowd cheered the Sharks off the ice, then erupted in several more standing ovations when the team returned from the locker room for a curtain call.

"It's been the story of our team the whole season to not give up," coach Ron Wilson said. "When everyone thinks we're out of the game or out of the season, we find a way to bounce back."

Modry scored his first goal in 56 games for the Kings, whose season-ending winless streak stretched to 11 games (0-9-0-2).

Incredibly, Andy Murray must wait until next season to become the winningest coach in franchise history -- if he's still around. Murray tied Bob Pulford's record with his 178th victory on March 14, but the Kings haven't won since, putting Murray's future in jeopardy.

"It just rips your heart out," Murray said. "To not be in the playoffs and then to have this last game go like this is tough. ... I'm kind of numb right now as you can imagine."

It might have been the final game for Robitaille, the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history with 653 goals and 1,370 points. The Kings haven't said whether the 17-year veteran will be invited back.

"I want to come back, it's just circumstances I can't control," Robitaille said. "We'll see what's going to happen with that, but I know I have one more good year in me. ... I don't think it'd be a problem with the Kings, but there's the labor agreement. Those are the factors for me, but I want to play one more year. I don't want it to end like this."

Nathan Dempsey also scored for Los Angeles, while Cechmanek made 38 saves but couldn't hang on for his first victory since Feb. 10. Tripp got his second NHL goal with 6{ minutes left in regulation.

Alex Korolyuk also scored for the Sharks, who avoided finishing the season with consecutive home losses. Nabokov made 25 saves for his 31st victory.

Game notes


Three important Kings weren't in attendance at the close of lost seasons. Ziggy Palffy missed his 42nd game with a dislocated right shoulder, while Jason Allison officially missed the entire season with a concussion and whiplash. Allison hasn't played since Jan. 25, 2003, while Adam Deadmarsh, who also had a serious concussion, hasn't played since Dec. 15, 2002. ... Los Angeles needed nearly 9{ minutes to get its first shot. ... Sharks captain Patrick Marleau was named the team's player of the year, and defenseman Tom Preissing was the top rookie. Marleau finished the season as the Sharks' leading scorer with 57 points, but has just one goal in 17 games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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