SAN JOSE – One by one, the San Jose Sharks’ streaks got snapped by the Kings.
No first-period goals allowed in nine consecutive games? Gone, when the Kings’ Michal Handzus scored with 4:23 remaining in the first period.
Two or fewer regulation goals allowed in 10 consecutive games? Gone, when Anze Kopitar scored the Kings’ third goal, in the final minute of the first period, no less.
The Sharks’ eight-game winning streak? Gone, in a 6-2 Kings victory Monday night, as the Kings stunned the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion and continued their recent, and surprising, mastery of the Sharks.
San Jose remains in first place in the Pacific Division, seven points ahead of Phoenix and eight ahead of the Kings, but Monday’s result held significant value for the Kings, both emotionally and, in the short term, in the Western Conference standings.
With the victory, the Kings pulled into a three-way tie for fifth place, but are technically in seventh place. In the ultra-tight West, staying within the playoff pack is all that matters, and the Kings also continued their strong play against the Sharks,
The Kings improved to 3-0-1 against the Sharks this season (including 2-0-1 in San Jose), and the teams meet again twice this month, both at STAPLES Center. It will be difficult for the Kings to top the wild scene that played out Monday.
Jonathan Quick weathered an early storm and finished with a career-high 45 saves. Against San Jose’s penalty-kill unit, one of the best in the league, the Kings went 3 for 5, and the Kings got goals from six different players – Handzus, Oscar Moller, Kopitar, Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Parse – despite being outshot 47-20. Drew Doughty had four assists in the highest-scoring game of his two-year career.
``This was real big in here, especially the power play,’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``The San Jose Sharks' penalty killing is outstanding. To be able to get three power-play goals, I give our guys a lot of credit. There was a lot of composure with the puck, making plays and shooting the puck.’’
The Kings took a 6-0 lead in the first minute of the third period, and scored those six goals on only 17 shots. The Sharks got two third-period goals, from Douglas Murray and Patrick Marleau, but by then the game was far out of reach.
``We have a good team,’’ Kopitar said. ``Maybe not for 6-0 after 41 minutes of play, but we came out confident and we killed some of their power plays and we were able to capitalize on the power play. That's huge, as we all know.
``I thought that was a battle of power plays, and we came through. Obviously the best penalty killer for us was Quickie, again. He stood on his head. He had close to 50 shots, so he's been the best guy for us lately. He's really giving us a chance every night.’’
The Kings had to weather a rather significant San Jose storm in the first 10 minutes, particularly on an early power play, as the Sharks had four shots on goal in two minutes. But the Kings got strong play from Quick, to keep the game scoreless.
``That was huge,’’ said Quick, who has been named to the United States Olympic team. ``They seem to always come out like that, especially in their own barn. They always come out flying. We expected that and we weathered the storm.
``We caught a couple power plays and we took advantage. Our power play was great all night, and our PK was great all night. We had some big goals and a great team effort.’’
Handzus got the scoring started by scoring a goal in his third consecutive game -- and his 10th of the season -- to give the Kings the lead with 4:23 left in the first period. Rob Scuderi shot the puck in, and Handzus picked it up behind the net and scored on a quick wraparound to beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
The Kings took a two-goal lead with 1:31 remaining, on the power play. Handzus controlled the puck behind the net and passed in front to Moller, who scored from close range. The Kings benefitted from the fact that San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle, in front of the net, broke his stick, then doubly benefitted when Patrick Marleau made an ill-fated decision to toss his stick to Boyle.
Not only did Marleau not prevent a goal, he also got a penalty for throwing his stick, and the Kings scored on the ensuing power play to make it 3-0.
Doughty made a perfect cross-ice pass to Kopitar, who needed to do little more than deflect the shot in, from the side of the net, with 58 seconds left in the first period. The Kings scored three goals on 11 shots in the first period.
The Kings took a 5-0 lead with goals 14 seconds apart, late in the second period. First, Smyth made it 4-0 on the power play. Doughty made a strong play at the blue line to keep the puck in the San Jose zone, then faked a shot and passed right to Kopitar, who skated in and shot. Smyth, parked in front of the net, deflected the puck past Nabokov.
``Obviously, Smytty helps a ton,’’ Doughty said. ``He stands in front of the net and he gets his stick on pretty much every shot. He's got three goals in his last three games. He's been doing a great job for us. I think the main thing for us is, we're getting a lot more shots, and we're moving the puck around a lot quicker and faster.’’
Then, Brad Richardson chased down a puck behind the Sharks' net and centered to Simmonds, who got position on San Jose's Torrey Mitchell and scored with 3:18 remaining in the period to make the score 5-0 Kings.
The Sharks turned to Thomas Greiss in goal to start the third period, and the Kings greeted him with a goal 13 seconds into the game. Rob Blake, with the puck behind the Sharks' net, handed it to Parse, who shot and scored from the middle of the left circle.
San Jose broke the Kings' shutout bid 3:21 into the third period, on the power play, as Murray took a pass from Scott Nichol and scored on a slap shot, through traffic, from the top of the left circle.
Marleau scored with exactly seven minutes remaining in the third period, as he took a pass from Joe Thornton and skated, untouched, through the middle of the ice and beat Quick with a wrist shot.
On Monday night, the Kings gained one player and, potentially, lost another.
Jarret Stoll returned, after missing seven games with a groin injury, but Davis Drewiske had to leave the game after the first period with a shoulder injury. Murray said Drewiske would be evaluated by team doctors in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
``He banged his shoulder,’’ Murray said. ``He didn't come back and play, so I don't expect that we're going to see him anytime soon. Usually, on that kind of play, if you can absorb it, it's, `OK, it's just a stinger, I can play.' But when he's out for a while, then there's usually more to it.’’
The Kings finished the season series against San Jose 3-2-1. ..It was the first time they won the season series vs. the Sharks since 2001-02. .. Jarret Stoll played in his 400th NHL game tonight. .. Wayne Simmonds has 16 points in his last 21 games (7-9=16). .. Drew Doughty has 10 assists in the last nine games and 12 points in the last 11 games (1-11=12). .. The Kings are still 11-4-1 vs. the Pacific Division. .. Dustin Brown had nine hits tonight.
1 - 0 LAK