Los Angeles Kings Pressure San Jose Sharks; Patience Pays Off
The Kings put plenty of pressure on the Sharks, taking 30 shots over the first two periods of the game. Despite the number of shots, many quality-scoring chances and keeping possession of the puck in the Sharks zone most of the time, San Jose netminder Antti Niemi kept them off the board.
“We had a lot of great chances in the first and second but nothing was going in,” said Brad Richardson.
In the final 20 minutes, L.A. did not let up, taking less shots but still controlling the puck and, at last, getting the results they desired. They scored four goals on seven shots in the third for the win.
“We stuck with it and that’s always a good thing. Sometimes, it can go the other way; you get a lot of chances, and they end up scoring. But Quicky was great. We got that first one and kind of went from there,” Richardson continued.
“We were peppering [Niemi] all night. He was making some big saves through traffic,” said Brown. “When you get that many shots and you’re testing a goalie that often, when we got that first goal, maybe it broke his will a little bit.”
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2:08 into the third, Brad Richardson was hit and brought down by two Sharks. He quickly got back up, regained the puck and passed it to Trevor Lewis, who put past Niemi to open the scoring. Richardson got the lone assist on Lewis’s second of the season. Slightly more than a minute later, former Shark Marco Sturm scored his first goal as a King, also his first this season. The helpers went to Anze Kopitar and Matt Greene.
“I’m just embarrassed. It was a terrible effort….A lot of us took the night off and against a team as good as that, it can’t happen,” said San Jose’s Dan Boyle.
L.A. captain Dustin Brown tacked on two more, assisted first by Drew Doughty and Kopitar, and then, by Kopitar and Jack Johnson.
Kopitar flipped the puck over the head of Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Brown sped to receive the unusual pass, which he converted into the Kings’ fourth goal of the night.
“I’ve only see that play connect one time before ever,” said L.A. head coach Terry Murray.
Brown tied and passed Kopitar for the team lead in goals, with 16. His 19 points in 12 games this month are good for second most in the NHL in December. Kopitar is close behind with 17 points over the same stretch.
Brown was the second star of the game, Kopitar third.
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The Kings offensive outburst in the third may have been for naught if not for the work of their goalie at the other end.
Jonathan Quick “stood on his head,” said KTLA Los Angeles sportscaster Steve Hartman.
Quick made 24 saves for the shutout. It was the third time he blanked his opponent in his past six games. He has the second most shutouts in the league this season (four). He also ranks second in wins (18) and goals against average (1.86) and third in save percentage (.932).
He earned first star status, as chosen by Dan Rusanowsky, the Sharks’ radio play-by-play announcer.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan summed up his team’s (lack of) effort.
“We were outworked, outhustled, outmuscled and outcommitted. It was pretty obvious one team came to play, and another team came to see what would happen.”
McLellan also praised the Kings.
“Full marks to them…There was no doubt tonight who the better team was, it wasn’t even close. We got what we deserved.”
L.A. completed a quick sweep of their California rivals, also beating Anaheim with four goals in one period on Sunday night.
The Kings’ 45 points puts them second in the Pacific division, fourth in the Western Conference and eighth in the NHL. They are one point behind the Dallas Stars in all three situations.
Los Angeles returns to action Wednesday at 6 p.m. Pacific time when they face the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona.
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