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Kings win special teams battle and game
Sharks stumble after Christmas break
12/27/14 - By Mike Lee -

If the overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks right before the Christmas break was supposed to light a fire, Todd McLellen may want to gather some more kindling. Returning from their 5-day break, the Sharks looked more like a team enjoying Christmas dinner than a team eager to get back to winning. Perhaps Southern California has a numbing effect on the Sharks, who stumbled through a lifeless 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Back on opening night last October, the Sharks looked like a team destined to overcome the embarrassing playoff performance that jettisoned San Jose from the post season. The Sharks looked completely opposite on Saturday night, and more like the team that dropped Game 7 of their playoff series with the Kings last Spring.

Much like that Game 7, the Sharks scored the 1st goal of the game, then rolled over to the Kings physical play. Joe Pavelski put the Sharks up 1-0 just 2:39 into the game after Justin Williams half-hearted clearing pass was deflected by Joe Thornton. As Williams tried skating toward his own blueline, Pavelski was headed in the opposite direction. The puck landed right on Pavelski's stick, before the Sharks forward headed for the Kings net and fired a shot that caught Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in the left pad. The puck trickled over the Los Angeles goal line for Pavelski's 17th goal of the season.

The Kings stepped up the physicality and press in the Sharks zone. The tables began to turn midway through the period as the Sharks fell back into a defensive posture.

Tyler Toffoli was the benefactor as the Sharks had all five skaters circling their own net with just under 6 minutes to play. Toffoli put a shot off Antti Niemi that wound around the end boards to the right point, where Jamie McBain collected the puck and sent a pass through the slot back to Toffoli on the left side. Toffoli one timed the pass into a wide open net after both Barclay Goodrow and James Sheppard whiffed on McBain's pass.

The game turned into a special team's battle that the Sharks flat out lost.

The Sharks committed a pair of penalties in each of the next two periods, setting up four separate power play chances for the Kings. The league's 8th ranked power play carved up the Sharks, scoring a pair of goals.

Anze Kopitar scored his 8th goal of the year at 10:13 of the 2nd period after Sheppard was sent off for tripping McBain. Marion Gaborik carried the puck in on net and tried firing a shot from the left side, but the puck trickled past Niemi. Unfortunately for San Jose, Kopitar was looming on the opposite side of the net, where he easily deposited the puck as Scott Hannan went crashing into his own netminder.

Hannan was the goat in the 3rd period when Los Angeles capitalized on his tripping penalty early in the period. Jake Muzzin held the puck near the left dot before winding up for a big shot that caught Niemi in the right shoulder before floating over the goal line. It was like shooting fish in a barrel for Muzzin who had all day to line up his shot and wind up for the big blast from in close.

That was in contrast to the Sharks power play which continues to believe that they will find holes in opposing penalty kills with long range shots that simply get blocked.

Not that the Sharks were generating many shot to begin with, but holding penalty to Brayden McNabb at the end of the middle period generated squadoosh in terms of pucks directed at Quick.

A tripping penalty to Williams with 3:50 remaining in regulation allowed the Sharks to pull their goaltender to try and generate some offense, but once again, nothing materialized. It was simply a case of one special teams unit being hands down more effective than their opponents.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 0 0 1
LA 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 17 (Thornton), 2:39. 2, LA, Toffoli 11 (McBain, Lewis), 14:04.
2nd period - 2, LA Kopitar 8 (Gaborik, Carter), 10:13, (pp).
3rd period - 4, LA, Muzzin 4 (Doughty, Kopitar), 3:18, (pp).
1st period - None.
2nd period - Desjardins, SJ (hooking), 3:07; Sheppard, SJ (tripping), 9:25; McNabb, LA (holding), 18:51.
3rd period - Hannan, SJ (tripping), 2:25; Hannan, SJ (holding), 6:50; Williams, LA (tripping), 16:10.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 29 26
LA - Quick 22 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 7 9 22
LA 12 12 5 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
LA 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Anze Kopitar
Drew Doughty
Matt Greene
Referees: Leggo, Hanson. Linesmen: Gibbs, Heyer.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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