SAN JOSE -- The Sharks extended their season Sunday night by extending themselves even beyond the usual extending.

When the final horn sounded at HP Pavilion, captain Joe Thornton congratulated goalie Antti Niemi and then skated to center ice for the traditional fan salute. Actually, Thornton glided there, bent over at the waist, staring down at the ice. He had played a tick past 22 minutes, more than any other Shark, including defensemen. He was catching his breath, clearly spent.

But now Thornton has more spending to do. So do the rest of the Sharks. The extenders succeeded. They will now play a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

"We really don't have anything to lose," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan after his team's 2-1 victory in Game 6. "We're going to play a Game 7 against the defending Stanley Cup champions in their building. We look forward to that challenge."

The Kings will be rightly favored to win the concluding game because (A) they are indeed the champs and (B) they have not lost a home game since March and (C) goalie Jonathan Quick may well be an alien being with supernatural powers because he's making saves that are otherworldly.

But the Sharks themselves demonstrated on Sunday night that they (A) own plenty of guts and (B) can win the minutes that most matter in a matchup that's tighter than tight and (C) can conquer a goalie with supernatural powers just often enough under the right conditions.


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And, yes, they sacrificed. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle took a puck to the chin. During the first period, teammate Justin Braun went down and stayed a long time after a smack to his lower lumbar region had a delayed reaction and his back seized up.

"It probably looked like I died out here," said Braun.

It did. But he was back by the end of the period.

In this series, almost every game has come down to those crucial few minutes out of the 60 or more that are played -- and the Sharks won the most crucial four minutes on Sunday.

The first two happened in the first period when the game was still scoreless, during the Sharks' second power play of the night. Kings penalty killer Anze Kopitar was pressured into a mistake by clearing the puck over the glass for one of those maddening automatic delay-of-game penalties.

This gave the Sharks a 5-on-3 situation for 1 minute and 46 seconds. After a few frustrating false starts, they finally found themselves in the right formation and Joe Pavelski fed Thornton a pass that he flipped over Quick's left shoulder for a 1-0 lead.

The Sharks made the score 2-0 with a gorgeously unexpected goal by TJ Galiardi as he steamed down the wing and used a defender to screen Quick. The Kings' Dustin Brown made it 2-1 on a goofy goal.

And all of that led to the other crucial few minutes, the ones at the end of the third period, when the Kings were throwing all their Stanley Cup experience at the Sharks in an attempt to tie the game.

Whether by design or will, Los Angeles has tended to dominate the final five minutes or so of nearly every period in the series. But this time, the Sharks were more prepared, skating on their toes instead of their heels, blocking shots, making sure the puck stayed as far away from Niemi as possible. In fact, the only save Niemi had to make in the final two minutes was of a 62-foot slap shot by Kings defender Slava Voynov.

"We put good puck pressure on them," said Sharks center Logan Couture. "That's one thing we haven't been doing."

With 1:12 remaining, there was a crucial faceoff in the Los Angeles offensive zone between Kopitar and Thornton that Kopitar actually won -- but with such force that the puck skipped over the stick of L.A.'s Drew Doughty at the blue line. The Kings only entered their offensive zone once after that, and Boyle blocked their only shot.

"We wanted this opportunity," Pavelski said.

So now, it's on to a Game 7, something the Kings' franchise has not experienced since 2002. Few of their current players have been on the ice for one. More Sharks players have -- as recently as two years ago, in a victory against Detroit.

Winning another one on Tuesday? For the beloved Los Tiburones, that would be the ultimate extension.