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So-Cal Checkmate?
Sharks surrender 5 goals for 2nd consecutive game
3/20/12 - By Mike Lee -

The end may be near. That is, if the Sharks continue to surrender 5 goals per game. With the Sharks on the outside looking in on the playoff seeds, San Jose allowed another division opponent to put a 5-spot up on the scoreboard. 24 hours after dropping a 5-3 stinker to the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks gagged up a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. A 3rd period comedy of errors doomed the Sharks to their 8th loss in the last 11 games.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Sharks are starting to run out of time. They now trail Los Angeles for the last playoff spot by two points. The Kings also own the first tie breaker, non-shootout wins.

The lackadaisical performance on Tuesday night doesn't give the impression that the Sharks will be playing in April. Simple mistakes ended up in their net, and an absence of urgency made the Sharks appear as if they were being hunted.

A slow opening period was capped with a pair of quick goals in the final 5 minutes after Anze Kopitar was sent off for running Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. With Kopitar in the box, the Kings got a jump on defenseman Dan Boyle after a puck kicked out of the Los Angeles zone. Mike Richards raced up ice and put a puck on net that Niemi partially blocked, but it deflected off his glove and fluttered over the goal line.

Luckily for San Jose, Martin Havlat continues to wield a hot hand. The Sharks best goal scorer the last week deposited his own rebound after the Sharks pressed and pushed bodies to the net. Havlat's success has been attributed to his willingness to stick his nose around the crease, which has been absent from his most of his teammates game this season.

San Jose went into a defensive mode, content to try and flip pucks out of their own end, without applying any defensive pressure on the Kings. That approach would finally cost them with 4:11 remaining in the period. Alec Martinez put a one-timer past Niemi off a feed from Kopitar who skated freely behind the Sharks net.

Torrey Mitchell severely hindered his team's chance of coming back by taking a double minor for high sticking 2 minutes into the 3rd period. Andrew Desjardins then added to the sharks misery by following that up with another high stick less than a minute later. Jeff Carter was called for a ticky-tack interference penalty to make the 5-on-3 power play a 4-on-3.

That did little to stop the Kings, who pushed their lead to 3-1 on Kopitar's 24th goal of the season. Kopitar pumped a shot past Niemi from the right circle after the Kings worked the puck down low.

Dan Boyle answered three minutes later, scoring on the back end of a tic-tac-toe passing sequence. Havlat started the puck-moving clinic with a pass from the slot to Logan Couture on the left wing. Couture saw Boyle pinching on the weak aide and hit him with a pass through the slot. Boyle buried it with a top shelf delivery as Jonathan Quick tried diving to cutoff the angle.

Dustin Penner ended the Sharks evening with his 8th goal of the season after Ryane Clowe tried forcing a pass in the neutral zone that was picked off by Slava Voynov. Penner took a feed from Vono as he skated up the left wing boards before ripping a shot just under Niemi's glove hand.

San Jose was forced to pull Niemi with more than 2 minutes remaining in regulation.

Jeff Carter tacked on a meaningless empty-net goal to rub a little salt in the wound. =


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 1 2
LA 1 1 3 5
1st period - 1, LA, Richards 16 (Mitchell), 15:26, (sh). 2, SJ, Havlat 6 (Burns), 15:48, (pp).
2nd period - 3, LA, MArtinz 4 (Kopitar, Williams), 15:49.
3rd period - 3, LA, Kopitar 24 (Richardson, Brown), 4:00, (pp). 5, SJ, Boyle 7 (Couture, Havlat), 6:56. 6, LA, Penner 8 (Voynov), 15:54. 7, LA, Carter 21 (Richards, Kopitar), 19:44, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Kopitar, LA (goaltender interference), 14:34; Moore, SJ (cross checking), 16:03.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Mitchell, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 1:53; Desjardins, SJ (high sticking), 2:41; Carter, LA (interference), 2:59; Burns, SJ (holding), 4:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 41 37
SJ - empty net 1 0
LA - Quick 22 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 8 5 9 22
LA 12 16 14 42
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 1
LA 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Anze Kopitar
Willie Mitchell
Martin Havlat
Attendence
18,118
Officials
Referees: Hebert, Leggo. Linesmen: Henderson, Nelson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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