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Tanner Pearson nearly put Kings in a hole before reviving their playoff hopes against Sharks

Tanner Pearson nearly put Kings in a hole before reviving their playoff hopes against Sharks
Kings forward Tanner Pearson (70) passes the puck up ice past Sharks defenseman Roman Polak (46) in the first period of Game 3. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

It felt disastrous for Tanner Pearson and the Kings late in Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks.

Pearson inadvertently shot the puck over the glass, leading to a delay-of-game penalty with 5 minutes 56 seconds remaining in regulation in a tie score. It was a long and decidedly unnerving stay in the penalty box as he watched the Kings' penalty-killers go to work again.

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"It wasn't a good [feeling]," Pearson said Tuesday. "I think every time the puck went down the ice, I said a little prayer."

That particular penalty is an unforgiving one. It doesn't look good in real time or on video the next day.

"You look at what sort of plays you could have made ... like not putting it over the glass," Pearson said. "I was trying to put it off the glass, but over the guy off the glass. Not straight over the glass."

Pearson was the one who brought up the delay-of-game penalty well into an interview primarily focused on his game-winning heroics Monday night. His overtime score gave the Kings a 2-1 victory over the Sharks and cut San Jose's lead in the best-of-seven series to two games to one.

Such a thin line between fame and blame.

Not only did Pearson pull it together after the penalty but also he gave the Kings renewed vigor 3:47 into the overtime, shooting rather than passing on the two-on-one and beating Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.

"I think it was a must-win for us," Pearson said. "The last thing we wanted to do was to be put in a position of going down, 0-3. To cut the series in half was key. In that situation, you want to get the puck on net. Luckily it squeaked by him."

The goalies have had their star turns in this series. Jones, getting his first playoff starts, has been sharp in all three games. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was his usual brilliant self in Game 3; so usual that Kings Coach Darryl Sutter described it as "normal."

Quick's teammates were more expansive. The only difficulty was establishing where the performance ranked on the Quick scale of excellence.

"He's kind of created his own monster, so I don't know where you'd rank it," Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "We know what to expect from him. He's a big-game player. I'm not sure where it would rank but we're certainly glad he was on top of his game."

"Gotta be like a top-30 list."

Said forward Dustin Brown: "You can tell pretty early on in the game with the swagger and his attitude. It's not to say he has that all the time. But he has the ability to elevate, always tends to be when we need it most."

They like to say Quick at his best will give them a chance to win, but the Kings need help from their secondary scorers as well. Though Pearson's season had its share of ups and downs, he has three overtime winners on his resume, including two this past regular season.

"He always had a very high skill set, a good first three, four strides," Scuderi said. "Great shot. Good vision, hockey sense. You knew he had those things but now he's starting to put it together. He's got a great release on his shot. It doesn't take a lot for him to think about it and get rid of it.

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"I think it surprises some goalies and I thought it surprised Jones last night."

Pearson knows Jones' tendencies and Jones knows Pearson's. Does it give one or the other the upper hand?

"Yes and no," said Pearson, who was Jones' roommate when both were Kings. "Over the years, he's known where I've shot most of the time. That becomes pretty tricky. So you've got to think of a different way to put it. Maybe with me pulling it sideways, he maybe thought I was going glove [side] and it went five-hole."

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