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Labanc spoils Kings home opener
Sharks win first of the season in OT
10/5/18 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks kicked off a 5-game road trip with quick stop in Southern California on Friday night, welcoming the Los Angeles Kings to the new season with a 3-2 overtime win. The Kings made their debut season debut at Staples Center, but a Kevin Labanc goal 2:54 into the extra period ruined the party for the Kings faithful.

Labanc cut toward the net, getting a step on Tyler Toffoli just as Logan Couture feathered a lead pass into the slot from the left wing boards. The Sharks controlled the puck the entire overtime period, hemming the Kings into their own end. Los Angeles got caught with three tired skates on the ice, which allowed Labanc to get position on the tap in past Jonathan Quick.

San Jose continues to work out the early season kinks, not playing an error-free game but they were solid defensively in the 3rd period. They held the Kings to 5 shots in that period, and shot-less in overtime. That was an about face from their loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night, when they surrendered 3 goals in the 3rd period.

Martin Jones was a big part of that. The Sharks goaltender made 19 saves, including a big stop late in regulation. His sub-par play on Wednesday night was a key factor in the Sharks loss. He was solid on Friday, continuing his dominance over his former team.

The game opened with a pair of Sharks goals that gave San Jose a nice early cushion. Timo Meier recorded his first tally of the season 9:42 into the game by deflecting a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the blueline. Meier was floating through the slot with Kings defenseman Derek Forbort draped all over him. The Sharks forward lifted his stick blade tipping Vlasic's shot past Jonathan Quick for the 1-0 lead.

Evander Kane scored his 2nd goal of the season 4 minutes later. The Sharks forward took a drop pass from rookie Antti Suomela near the right dot before taking a stride toward the net and snapping a shot that sailed over Quick's left should, finding a small gap.

Kane grabbed the puck after the goal as a keepsake for Suomela, who recorded his first career NHL point on the play. Kane skated on a line with the rookie and fellow Fin Joonas Donskoi.

With things going swimmingly for the Sharks, they let their guard down late in the period, allowing the Kings to halve their lead. Kings captain Anze Kopitar gathered a deflection of Alex Iofallo near the right post and dragging it to his forehand for a slam duck from the right side. Forbort started the sequence with a shot from the left point, hitting Iofallo in the shin guard near the left dot, deflecting the puck to the far side where Kopitar was lurking.

Los Angeles tied the game just 37 seconds into the 2nd period when Toffoli beat Erik Karlsson to a deflection of the end boards. Tanner Pearson tried to uncork a shot on goal form the high slot, but it was deflected by a Sharks defender. The puck hit the end boards and bounced perfectly to a spot just outside the right post. Toffoli swiped at the puck, squeezing it between Jones' left arm and the right post for his 1st goal of the season.

San Jose took 5 penalties in the game, spending a large chunk of the game a man down, and they didn't skate on a power play until the 16:33 mark of the second period when Pearson was whistled for hooking. That power play lasted a short 5 seconds, after Joe Pavelski was called for interference off the ensuing faceoff.

The Sharks penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5, improving on their dismal 1-for-3 performance against the Ducks. The power play is a different story. They are a combined 0-for-6 thus far this season.

Game Notes:

* Evander Kane and Anze Kopitar led all skaters with 5 shots each. Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson from the Sharks were joined by the Kings Trevor Lewis with 4 shots each.

* Kane and Dion Phaneuf led their respective teams with 4 hits each.

* The Sharks unveiled their new first team power play, which did not include Joe Thornton. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer continues to ease Thornton back into play after he returned from a knee injury that cost him the end of the 2017-18 season.

* The Sharks head east, where they will face the Islanders, Flyers, Rangers and Devils over the next 9 days.


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1 2 3 OT T
SJ 2 0 0 1 3
LA 1 1 0 0 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Meier 1 (Vlasic, Thornton), 9:42. 2, SJ, Kane 2 (Suomela, Donskoi), 13:48. 3, LA, Kopitar 1 (Iafallo, Forbort), 17:15.
2nd period - 4, LA, Toffoli 1 (Pearson), 0:37.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - 5, SJ, Labanc 1 (Couture), 2:54.
1st period - Braun, SJ (tripping), 7:05.
2nd period - Suomela, SJ (tripping), 8:49; Pearson, LA (hooking), 16:33; PAvelski, SJ (interference), 16:38; Goodrow, SJ (illegal check to head), 20:00.
3rd period - Carter, LA (interference), 5:18; Sorensen, SJ (hooking), 12:07; Kempe, LA (slashing), 17:39.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 21 19
LA - Quick 33 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 9 12 10 2 33
LA 8 8 5 0 21
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
LA 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Kevin Labanc
Jonathan Quick
Evander Kane
Staples Center - 18,230
Referees: Joannette, L'Ecuyer. Linesmen: Gawryletz, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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