Early control didn’t prove to be enough for the Kings Thursday evening in San Jose, falling behind the wayside surrendering two goals in a 4:58 span in the second period, dropping their fifth and final regular season meeting with the Sharks 2-1 at the SAP Center.
It was the Kings’ first loss in an opposing building since January 28, when they lost 3-0 to the Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona. Tonight’s defeat snapped the Kings’ eight-game winning streak away from STAPLES Center.
In what was expected to be a first round playoff preview, the Kings came out strong out of the gate, controlling the tempo through the majority of the first period, outshooting the Sharks 10-5.
It was Nolan’s sixth goal of the season; his first goal in his past 34 games, his first point in his previous 22.
Shortly after Nolan’s goal, defenseman Drew Doughty left the game with an upper-body injury after delivering a check on Sharks forward Tyler Kennedy. Doughty did not return, and their have been no further details released on his status.
San Jose came out in the second period rejuvenated, looking more in synch, establishing pressure and puck control with their heavy physical presence against the Kings.
The Sharks laid a recorded 52 hits Thursday night compared to the Kings’ 32.
For San Jose, their first offensive answer came on the power play. After Dustin Brown was penalized for a roughing infraction, the Sharks won the ensuing faceoff in the Kings’ zone, and Brent Burns blasted the equalizer from atop the point with heavy traffic in front of Martin Jones.
Less than five minutes later as the Sharks were swarming the Kings’ zone as they troubled to clear the puck, Patrick Marleu fired a wrist shot on Martin Jones from the sideboards that the Kings’ goaltender couldn’t handle.
Logan Couture hopped on the rebound, beat an unbalanced Jones with a wraparound goal to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead with 7:47 to play in the second period.
This, a lead they would not relinquish.
After being heavily outplayed in the second period, the Kings fought back in the third, earning some respectable chances, but just couldn’t find a way to get another puck past San Jose’s Antti Niemi.
It was a far from perfect performance for the Kings Thursday night, as they went 0 for 5 on power play opportunities, had 27 shots blocked, and were outhit by a large margin, allowing San Jose’s physicality to earn the Sharks with 17 takeaways on the night.
Anze Kopitar played in his 600th career NHL game, recording two shots and four hits in 19:24 of ice time.
Matt Greene, playing in his first game since March 17, played in his 500th career NHL game, recording three hits and two blocked shots in 16:30 of ice time.
Mike Richards played his 200th game in a Kings uniform, and was held two a single shot and two hits in 18:32 on the ice.
Martin Jones made 19 saves for the Kings on 21 San Jose shots.
The Kings, with a playoff berth already clinched, now travel to Vancouver to continue to finish off their regular season slate. They’ll play the Canucks Saturday night at Rogers Arena, the puck scheduled to drop at 7:00 PM PST, with FOX SPORTS WEST returning with your live play-by-play coverage.
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