LOS ANGELES -- The handshake line will have to wait.
Justin Williams and Marian Gaborik scored two goals each and the Los Angeles Kings booked a return trip to the Bay Area, beating the Sharks 6-3 on Thursday night at Staples Center.
The Sharks still lead the best-of-seven series, three games to one.
A pair of late second-period goals earned the Kings a 4-2 lead by the second intermission.
Williams, who was quiet in the first three games, put Los Angeles ahead for the third and final time after the Sharks had fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. The winger found a rebound off of the end boards after Willie Mitchell’s point blast went wide, and tucked it in at 16:07 of the middle frame
Less than three minutes later, Alec Martinez’s floater towards the slot deflected off of Andrew Desjardins and right to Tyler Toffoli’s tape. Toffoli easily flung it past an out-of-position Antti Niemi at 19:01.
Gaborik’s second goal essentially put the game away just 34 seconds into the third. Anze Kopitar won a board battle with Brad Stuart and fed an open Gaborik, who placed the puck high over Niemi to make it 5-2.
Alex Stalock came on at that point, relieving Niemi, who had played every minute of the first three games.
The Sharks will get another chance to advance to the second round on Saturday, when they host Game 5 at SAP Center at 7 p.m. San Jose has won seven straight home playoff games, including the last five against Los Angeles.
The Sharks had the early energy, but the Kings struck first, as Gaborik finished off a three-on-two rush at 4:08 from Dustin Brown.
A couple of strong penalty kills by San Jose allowed them to tie the game in the closing seconds, thanks mainly to a strong shift by Tomas Hertl. The rookie got his own rebound, fed Hannan for a one-timer in the circle, and James Sheppard batted in the puck after Jonathan Quick couldn’t corral Hannan’s shot with less than eight seconds left before the intermission.
It was Sheppard’s first career playoff goal in his 21st game.
San Jose’s best chance to grab a lead came a couple minutes after Matt Nieto’s goal tied it at 2-2 in the second period.
The Sharks’ top power play unit swarmed around the crease midway through regulation with Kyle Clifford in the penalty box, but Joe Pavelski’s attempt at a wide open net was deflected just wide by Brown's stick, and Los Angeles took over from there.
The final minute of regulation featured a scrum involving all three of the Sharks' fourth liners, a fight between Williams and Justin Braun, and then another bout between Brent Burns and Robyn Regehr after the final horn.
The Sharks scored a power play goal at 11:36 of the third, when Pavelski knocked in a loose puck after Dan Boyle’s blast rattled around the blue paint to cut the Kings’ lead to 5-3. That was as close as the Sharks would get in the final period, as Brown put it away with an empty-net goal.
Moments earlier it looks like Williams secured a hat trick, but Jarret Stoll was called for cross-checking Stuart just before Williams’ point blast sailed in.
The Sharks finished 1-for-4 with a man advantage, while the Kings were 1-for-5.
Niemi allowed five goals on 28 shots. Stalock was playing in his first career NHL playoff game, and had to stop just four shots.
Quick, who struggled with his rebound control in the first part of the game, settled in to make 36 saves and record the win. His best stop came on a Sharks power play, when he gloved Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s open shot from the slot with 13:12 left in regulation.
Some line changes paid immediate dividends for the Kings, as Brown replaced Williams on the top line with Kopitar and Gaborik.
The Sharks continued to ice the same lineup they’ve used throughout the playoffs.
Jordan Nolan came out of the lineup for Kyle Clifford.
Game 6, if necessary, would be back in Los Angeles on Monday (time TBD).
The winner of the Sharks-Kings series will face either Anaheim or Dallas, who are tied at 2-2 in their first round series. Game 5 is on Friday night at Honda Center.