The San Jose Sharks (16-3-5, 37 points) came out on top this evening over the Los Angeles Kings (16-6-4, 36 points) at the SAP Center in another great night of hockey between division rivals. For the second time in as many games this season between the Sharks and Kings it took at least overtime to decide the game.
There was one lineup change tonight, one that had Matt Irwin finally reinsterted into the lineup after a long absence. He took Jason Demers’ spot who was a healthy scratch tonight.
The L.A. Kings gave the Sharks a taste of their own medicine early on in the game by scoring just 18 seconds into the first period. The goal, which was scored by sniper Jeff Carter, came after a great play by his linemate Dwight King who tipped a pass to the middle after in bounced off the back boards. Carter then one-timed the puck past Antti Niemi and just like that the Kings were up 1-0 although after that the period was mostly dominated by the Sharks who ended up outshooting L.A. 18-8.
In the second period the Sharks finally got on the board and actually did it twice. The first goal was scored by Joe Pavelski from the slot on a wrist shot. He ended up picking up a rebound after an initial shot from Tyler Kennedy. Martin Havlat was in front providing a screen.
Their second goal, which was a flukey one by Joe Thornton, came on a great hustle play by the captain. Thornton went in on the forecheck while L.A. goaltender Ben Scrivens was playing the puck behind the net and he got a piece of the puck. Thornton was able to get enough of the puck to throw it towards the net where it bounced off of Scrivens and into the net.
Oddly enough after the second period the Kings led in shots 27-25 after outshooting San Jose badly in the second stanza. Granted, six of those shots came on a four-minute L.A. power play that the Sharks killed off, but either way it was a huge difference from the first period.
In the third the Kings evened the score on a flukey goal of their own by defenseman Drew Doughty. He brought the puck up the ice and threw the puck at the net that ended up bouncing off of Scott Hannan’s skate and right by Niemi.
After that it was a special teams battle, and one that the Sharks got three power play chances in. Unfortunately the Kings looked stellar and negated San Jose’s high-powered power play by playing a very aggressive penalty kill style. Also, with 3:30 left in regulation the Kings got their chance at the game winner with the man-advantage but once again Niemi was San Jose’s best penalty killer.
We move on to the shootout which was probably the best one I have ever seen. It went on for eight rounds and in the end Niemi was strong once again. He let three get by him in the winning effort, but even got a piece of the puck on two of them. On the offensive side goals by Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Dan Boyle, and Thornton led San Jose to victory.
Next up the Sharks take on the St. Louis Blues at home in a Friday matinee game. The Blues, who have 39 points yet are only second in the Central Division behind the Blackhawks, are coming off of a convincing 4-1 victory earlier this evening against the Colorado Avalanche. It will be another tough game, but at least for now we can all be thankful this Thanksgiving that the Sharks defeated the much-hated L.A. Kings!
GGS 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (38 saves)
2. Joe Thornton (1 goal, 1 shootout goal)
3. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 1 shootout goal)