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Sharks bow to Kings
Flat performance spells doom
12/14/06 - by Mike Lee

The Sharks may have been guilty of looking ahead to their Thursday night matchup against the visiting Los Angeles Kings. After controlling things rather easily on Tuesday in Southern California, the Sharks returned home to finish a home-and-home series with the Kings before taking on the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. Throw in the fact the Kings were sending out a goaltender who had never faced NHL opposition in his career and it's easy to see how San Jose brushed the thought of competing aside.

The approach would backfire five minutes into the contest, when Anze Kopitar bagged his 7th goal of the season on a rather unspectacular play.

Rather than buckling down, the Sharks thought they could rely on their special teams play to pick up the pace as it did on Tuesday night. That to would backfire less than two minutes later. After Brian Willsie was sent off for boarding, Kopitar teamed up with Alexander Frolov for a back-breaking short handed goal to quickly dispel the notion that the Kings were going to roll over.

Frolov took a pass from Brent Sopel and drove down the slot, before dropping the puck to Kopitar who trailed on the play. The rookie forward skated around a fallen Vesa Toskala and easily deposited the puck for the 2-0 Kings lead.

With the early lead, rookie goaltender Barry Brust had a chance to settle in and settle his nerves.

"After that first shot, I calmed down and got some confidence," said Brust. "I'm pretty elated. I waited 23 years for this, and it was worth it. ... My confidence built as I made my first saves, and that confidence seemed to get transferred to my teammates."

Things went from bad to worse for San Jose in the 2nd period. After exchanging an equal number of shots in the period, Mike Cammalleri swatted home a loose puck in front of the Sharks net after Sopel bounced a shot of the end boards. Cammalleri was cutting across the slot as the puck landed right in front of him.

Mark Bell appeared to cut into the Kings lead with a goal moments later, but it was disallowed because the puck was redirected with a high stick.

Derek Armstrong capped the Kings scoring 1:28 into the 3rd period with his 6th of the year.

San Jose would bag a pair of goals late in the period, but it was too little, too late. Christian Ehrhoff broke a 15-game goalless drought by roofing home a 20-foot shot past

"If you don't come to play and you're not hungry, it's hard," Toskala said. "It's hard, especially against L.A., which we should be able to beat every time we play against them."

Mike Grier would add a goal with under four minutes to play to cut Los Angeles' lead in half. Bell setup the score by throwing the puck on net from the left wing boards. Grier, who was nestled at the top of the crease, swept the rebound of Brust into the net for his 7th goal of the season.

San Jose tried pulling out all the stops to get back into the game, including a time-out call with just 14 seconds remaining. Brust stood tall, stopping 16 shots in the period to earn his first NHL win.

"We just weren't ready to play from the get-go," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "It just wasn't there for almost two periods. Maybe the last 15 minutes of the game, we played with a sense of urgency. ... We'll get beat 10-0 if we bring this performance against Anaheim."

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1 2 3 T
LA 2 1 1 4
SJ 0 0 2 2
1st period - 1, LA, Kopitar 7 (Brown, Dallman), 5:05. 2, LA, Kopitar 8 (Frolov, Sopel), 6:58, (sh).
2nd period - 3, LA, Cammalleri 13 (Sopel, Armstrong), 2:08.
3rd period - 4, LA, Armstrong 6 (Frolov, Ivanans), 1:28. 5, SJ, Ehrhoff 6 (Thornton, Carle), 9:59, (pp). 6, SJ, Grier 7 (Bell, Rissmiller), 16:37.
1st period - Willsie, LA (boarding), 5:33; Kostopolous, LA (tripping), 19:41.
2nd period - Cammalleri, LA (slashing), 5:50; Blake, LA (tripping), 12:07; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 15:00.
3rd period - Ivanans, LA (holding), 9:38.
  Shots Saves
LA - Brust 36 34
SJ - Toskala 31 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
LA 12 11 8 31
SJ 9 9 18 36
Power Play Conversion
LA 0 of 1
SJ 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Anze Kopitar
Barry Brust
Alexander Frolov
Referees: Mike Leggo, Brad Meier. Linesmen: Brad Lazarowich, Brian Mach.

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