The San Jose Sharks (12-8-6) defeated the Los Angeles Kings (14-10-2) by the final score of 4-3 in what became a closer game than it should have been.
The Kings were down 4-1 early on in the third period before they scored two unanswered goals and gave the Sharks a scare, although in the end were unable to complete the comeback.
It was nice to see the Sharks finally show what they are capable of on offense even though it took moving one of their defensemen to the forward line. While he is not unfamiliar with the position having played it under McClellan in the AHL as part of the Minnesota Wild organization, it is still very rare to see the transition made. The thing is, he is making it look easy as well. In my opinion he way by far the most active, energetic and best player on the ice for San Jose tonight and looks to have given the offense a nice spark.
This marks the first time in 21 games the Sharks have scored four goals in a game, a number which I hope never happens again. The last time San Jose scored this many goals was when they played the Canucks in the fifth game of the season. Better late than never?
In the first period the the Kings outshot the Sharks by a 16-6 margin and controlled more than half of the play although San Jose played better than the numbers suggested. In fact, they got the only goal of the period by Brent Burns a little passed the midway point in the period off of a rebound opportunity. Marleau and Couture picked up the assists on the play.
Marleau also got a great opportunity, this time short-handed, at the tail-end of the period when he had a breakaway but goaltender Jonathan Quick made a great poke check and knocked the puck off Marleau’s stick before he could get the shot off.
On the other side of the ice Antti Niemi was stellar stopping all pucks headed his way including a few great ones to keep the Kings off the scoreboard. The defense was key as well in that first period blocking 12 more shots that were heading towards Niemi.
In the second period things picked up both on the scoreboard and physically. San Jose started the period strong and a great hit by Andrew Desjardins ingnited a response from the Kings and eventually earned a four minute power play for his team.
The Sharks then made the Kings pay by scoring twice on the double-minor, one on a goal by Matt Irwin and another by Logan Couture from the point after great puck movement on the power play. After the two goals Jonathan Quick was chased from his crease and replaced by Jonathan Bernier.
Los Angeles finally answered with a goal of their own a little over a minute later when Dustin Brown scored the first power play goal of the game for the Kings and put them back into the game 3-1.
The Sharks came out of the game strong again in the third period after a great takeaway by Burns resulted in a two-on-none and he passed the puck to Couture who buried his second goal of the game to make it 4-1 Sharks.
The Kings answered once again with seven minutes left to play in the period when captain Dustin Brown picked a corner and beat Niemi cleanly pulling his team to within two goals once again. Justin Williams picked up his second assist of the game on the goal.
After the goal the Kings got a shot in the arm and pushed the Sharks back into their own end. They kept the pressure on and were able to score again with 3:20 left in the period. The goal was scored by Dwight King who picked up his second goal of the season, and more importantly for his team shrunk the San Jose lead to just one.
With one minute left the Kings pull Bernier and after a few chances the puck goes out of play at the 45 second mark. That is when Los Angeles head coach Daryl Sutter called his timeout to get the troops in order. The Kings got plenty of chances but in the end Niemi was too strong and the Sharks survive a late Los Angeles push to earn the victory.
The win becomes a milestone for head coach Todd McClellan who earned his 207th career win as a San Jose’s main man behind the bench. He passes Ron Wilson for most wins all-time as Sharks’ head coach. Hats off to McClellan and I hope to see many more
My 3 Stars
1. Brent Burns (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Logan Couture (2 goals)
3. Dustin Brown (2 goals)