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Sharks bust some balls in LA
3-goal 1st leads SJ to second straight win
11/30/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks turned back into the road warriors that vaulted them into a playoff spot last season on Wednesday night with a commanding 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center in Southern California. San Jose scored early with a flurry of 1st period goals, then leaned on Martin Jones to snap the Kings 5 game winning streak.

Beating any division opponent is nice, but beating the Kings is gravy. The Sharks took advantage of some lapses in the Kings attention span, and then weathered a big 2nd period push by the Kings with solid defense and timely goaltending to keep pace with the Western Conference leaders.

The 3rd place Sharks sit just 7 points from the 12th spot in the West, which highlights the parity in the league at the quarter mark of the season. San Jose is 8-3-0 over their last 10 games, but they still lost ground to the Chicago Blackhawks and St Louis Blues over that span. San Jose would have been tied with the Kings had they lost.

Losing was a notion that was easily dispatched in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Rookie Kevin Labanc opened the game's scoring 3:32 into the contest when he blasted home a one-tme chance off a 2-on-1 break. The puck was deflected out of the Sharks zone, springing Logan Couture up the right wing. The forward held the puck until defenseman Drew Doughty dropped to a knee to fend off any notion of a shot from Couture, but he elected to pass to Labanc on the off wing. Labanc left no doubt where his shot was headed by unloading on the puck with a booming shot that easily beat Kings goaltender Petr Budaj.

Couture pushed the Sharks lead to 2-0 with 55 seconds left in the period, chipping a rebound past Budaj after Joonas Donskoi fired a shot on net from the high slot. Couture had the presence of mind to cut back toward the net as the puck was moving away from the net as Donskoi skated toward the blueline. A quick pivot setup the forward for a shot that Couture cleaned up for his 9th goal of the season.

San Jose was content to head to the 1st intermission with a two goal lead, but rookie Ryan Carpenter had other ideas. Playing in his 4th NHL game, the forward chipped the puck up the right wing boards toward Mikkel Boedker but it skipped past his linemate and Kings defender. Carpenter kept skating and found himself on another 2-on-1. Budaj may have been thinking of the Labanc goal, and reacted a split second too late when Carpenter elected to shoot rather than pass the puck. Pure joy best describes the look on Carpenter's face as he celebrated with the other Sharks on the ice.

The Kings likely received a tongue lashing from head coach Darryl Sutter during the intermission, because his team came out flying to start the 2nd period.

Los Angeles pressed with reckless abandon, coming within a fraction of getting a puck past goaltender Martin Jones. Defenseman Brent Burns dove into the crease behind Jones to stop a would be goal to keep the Sharks three-goal lead intact.

Dustin Brown finally Jones at 3:01 of the period, lifting a shot from the doorstep that hit the underside of the net. The on-ice referees missed the score and allowed play to resume until the goal horn was sounded with the puck at center ice. A short review confirmed the good goal, fueling the Kings would be comeback.

The pressure continued until the midway point of the period, at which time the Kings ran out of juice and the Sharks settled down. Puck possession became the story of the second half of the period.

If the Kings tried to mount another push in the 3rd period, you would have never noticed. San Jose restricted the Kings to single shot on goal through the first 8 minutes of the period and 3 shots by the midpoint of the frame.

Sutter was forced to pull Budaj with just under 2 minutes remaining, but Couture added his 3rd point of the game by lobbing the puck the length of the ice into the empty net. Doughty tried to intercept the puck by racing to his net, but he ended up sliding crotch first into the right post.

Game Notes:

* Kevin Labanc's reward for his goal was the 2nd fewest number of shifts on the nigth for San Jose.

* 11 Shark skaters recorded a +1 or higher. Couture, Joel Ward, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun were all +3 on the night.

* San Jose won only 22 of 59 faceoffs for an anemic 37% conversion rate. That's close to a season low if not the poorest performance in the faceoff circle this season.

* Joe Pavelski recorded a game high 7 hits to lead all skaters.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 3 0 1 4
LA 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, SJ, Labanc 2 (Couture, Ward), 3:32. 2, SJ, Couture 8 (Donskoi, Ward), 19:05. 3, SJ, Carpenter 1 (Boedker), 19:35.
2nd period - 4, LA, Brown 4 (Gaborik, Dowd), 3:01, (pp).
3rd period - 5, SJ, Couture 9 (unassisted), 18:43, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Martin, SJ (holding), 5:42.
2nd period - Labanc, SJ (hooking), 1:23.
3rd period - Forbort, LA (cross checking), 5:12.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 27 26
LA - Budaj 23 20
- empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 7 9 8 24
LA 7 11 9 27
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 1
LA 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Joel Ward
Dustin Brown
Attendance
Staples Center - 18,230
Officials
Referees: Schlenker, Watson. Linesmen: Nagy, Murchison.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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