It was like a dream where something awful is happening but you're powerless to stop it — except the Kings were wide awake for their public undressing Tuesday at Staples Center.
Boosted by a raucous crowd they had taken a 3-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks in the first period and appeared poised to take control of the teams' first-round playoff series. Their rout seemed assured when Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi lost his stick and was helpless to prevent Brad Richardson's unassisted goal 44 seconds into the second period.
What could go wrong?
The Kings unraveled while San Jose shortened its bench to three lines and defied its reputation as mentally fragile in postseason play. The Sharks scored five times in the second period and earned a 6-5 victory and 2-1 series lead when Devin Setoguchi, the trailer on a three-on-two, scored from the slot 3 minutes and 9 seconds into overtime.