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|Sharks at Kings Shootout 3/24 - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
|Quick's Quick Legs - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
|03/24/11 - Post Game - Brown - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
|03/24/11 - Post Game - Quick - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
|03/24/11 - Post Game - Coach Murray - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
|03/24/11 - Post Game - Heatley - Fri, 25 Mar 2011|
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Dustin Brown scored in the shootout -- after his two-goal effort in regulation -- and a hat fluttered down from the 100-level seats onto the STAPLES Center ice.
Only in the mind of a generous Kings fan could that be considered a hat trick, but it’s certainly no stretch to say that Brown gave a ``hats-off’’ effort Thursday night.
Brown set the tone at both ends of the ice, and his tenacity helped the Kings overcome some significant third-period disappointment and record two huge points with a 4-3 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks before a sellout crowd.
In a wild third-period sequence, the Kings held a one-goal lead, lost it with 3:32 remaining, got it back with 1:42 remaining and lost it again with 4.1 seconds remaining.
Taking no time for breath-catching, the Kings recorded four shots in overtime, then won the game in the fifth round of the shootout, on Brown’s goal. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped four of five attempts and improved to 9-0 in shootouts this season.
``That was a roller coaster there, the last four minutes,’’ Brown said. ``We were up, holding a lead, we blow it, get it back and blow it again. It's tough, but we had some good chances in overtime and took it to a shootout. I thought it was really good, especially after the controversy with the Boyle goal, whether Quickie touched it or not, we didn't let it get to us and came through with the win.''
In the tight Western Conference playoff race, the Kings kept pace with their closest competitors. The Kings, with 90 points, are three points behind fourth-place Phoenix (but have two games in hand against the Coyotes) and are even with sixth-place Nashville but have one game in hand. Seventh-place Chicago is two points behind.
Somewhat remarkably, given the up-and-down nature of their season, the Kings have a 42-26-6 record, the exact same record they had after 74 games last season.
``Obviously we're trying to make a push, and that's a team that we want to jump in the standings and try to win the Pacific Division here,’’ Quick said. ``They sneak a point out of it, and I think we outplayed them for a majority of the game and we played a solid game as a team. At the end of the day, we got two points and you can't complain about that.’’
So while the late regulation goal put a dent in the Kings’ chances of catching San Jose for the Pacific Division title -- the Kings are in third place in the division, five points behind San Jose -- there were still more positives than negatives to take away.
The Kings, who also got a regulation goal from Willie Mitchell, turned in a mostly solid effort against a Sharks team that has only two regulation losses since Valentine’s Day.
Quick made a handful of significant stops among his 25 saves -- including a massive third-period kick save on Dany Heatley -- the Kings recorded 38 shots on goal, scored twice on the power play and overcame significant adversity.
In an effort befitting a team leader, the captain led the way. A Kings team already struggling for offense played its first game without first-line winger Justin Williams, who will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a dislocated shoulder.
Minor-league call-up Oscar Moller did a highly credible job in Williams’ place, but Brown carried the mail. He scored two goals, recorded six hits and made an impressive, lunging clear of a puck during a critical third-period penalty kill.
``He played good,’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He played very hard, very intense and that’s a big part of a captain’s responsibility, is to not only be a good player but to lead the way with intensity and compete and put the extra effort in to help a team get the job done. It was a solid game by Dustin Brown here tonight.''
Brown’s power-play goal, with 1:42 remaining in the third period, gave the Kings a 3-2 lead and sent STAPLES Center into raucous celebration.
The Kings, still nursing the late lead, had a neutral-zone faceoff with 15 seconds remaining, and needed only to win the draw and get a solid smack on the puck. Instead, Joe Pavelski beat Anze Kopitar, the Sharks worked the puck in deep, created some chaos around the net and tied the game on Patrick Marleau’s second goal.
After a scoreless overtime period, Dan Boyle scored in the first round of the shootout -- on a disputed play, with the Kings claiming a double-hit -- and, in the second round, Jarret Stoll scored his eighth shootout goal on nine attempts this season.
Quick and Antti Niemi traded saves in the next two rounds before Brown scored in the fifth round and Marleau pushed the puck wide of the net to end the game.
``Quicker, to me, that's one of the strengths of his attitude, his makeup,’’ Murray said. ``He's able to bounce back from goals he wishes he could do over again, or a game that isn't so good. He's mentally tough and he can get himself refocused.
``You can see at the end, in the shootout, when Brownie is going in for his shot, (Quick) does not lift his head. He has bowed his head. He's looking at the ice. He's just getting his concentration up, because he knows he's got one more shooter and he got ready for it. At the end of the day, he made some huge stops in the game and, obviously in the shootout, did the right stuff for us.''
The Kings had their run of 35 consecutive penalty kills ended 35 seconds into the second period, as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead. Marleau sent the puck down low to Pavelski, who was being marked closely by Kings defenseman Matt Greene but deflected the puck toward the net, where it hit Quick high and landed over the goal line.
The Kings got even in special teams, and on the scoreboard, with Brown's power-play goal 7:18 into the second period. Alexei Ponikarovsky chased down a loose puck behind the net and pushed it to Brown, who was stationed to the right of the net. Brown swiped at the puck and beat Niemi from close range to tie the game 1-1. Alec Martinez also picked up an assist.
The Kings took the lead less than two minutes after they tied the game. Moller pushed the puck into the high slot, where Mitchell settled it and beat Niemi with a slap shot. Ryan Smyth also picked up an assist as the Kings took a 2-1 lead at the 9:07 mark.
After a handful of quality third-period scoring opportunities, the Sharks tied the game with 3:32 remaining in the third period. Marleau took the puck up the left side and fired a wrist shot from the outside of the faceoff circle that beat Quick to the far post and tied the game 2-2.
The Kings got the lead back with a power-play goal with 1:42 remaining, as Brown scored his second goal of the game. Brown was positioned near the top of the right faceoff circle when he took a pass from Michal Handzus, released a quick wrist shot and beat Niemi to give the Kings a 3-2 lead. Martinez picked up his second assist.
``We got one, an ugly goal early, and maybe that's the spark we needed,’’ Brown said. ``The second goal was a play that me and Zeus have been working on. It's nice to get some power-play goals, and we need to kind of build on that, because coming down the stretch here and into the playoffs, power plays can win you games and win you series. It's probably one of the more important things for a team.''
Marleau's second goal of the game, with 4.1 seconds remaining in the third period, sent the game to overtime. After a scramble in front of the Kings' net, Marleau pounced on a loose puck to the side of the net and beat Quick from close range to make it a 3-3 game.