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Uninspired effort costs Sharks again
Kings overcome 3rd period deficit to win in the shootout
1/26/11 - By Mike Lee -

Bad teams can't hold leads. By that simple logic, the Sharks are a bad team. Their position in the Western Conference standings would validate that assertion, especially after they blew yet another 3rd period lead, falling 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in the shootout on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Niklas Wallin's turnover in his own zone was the signature play that allowed the Kings to scratch back to take two points in the standings after leaning on goaltender Jonathan Quick.

All the talk about building on their four-game winning streak, especially against a division opponent was more lip service from a team that just can't seem to put it all together. Their plan of attack early in the contest was to lull the Kings to sleep with a slow moving, uninspired approach.

The Sharks took some time warming up the motor, not registering a shot on goal until Douglas Murray's attempt 8 and a half minutes into the game. San Jose put up a Spartan 8 shots in the period.

Antti Niemi would make a kick save on the only quality scoring chance for the Kings in the period late. Brad Richardson had a good look at the net, but his shot came as he was back skating away from the net. Niemi stuck his right pad out to deny the scoring chance.

The Sharks got a scare earlier in the period when Alexei Ponikarovsky checked Kyle Wellwood into Joe Pavelski. Pavelski was in noticeable discomfort after Wellwood landed on his knee. He would continue to play, but seeing him hobble to the bench wasn't what the Sharks wanted to see.

Ryan Smyth would take an interference penalty for slashing Dan Boyle's stick out of his hands with 4 ticks left in the period. The infraction allowed the Sharks to start the 2nd period on the power play, but would misfire on the man-advantage after Logan Couture and Dany Heatley both had quality scoring chances.

The absence of any offense would be nullified by Ryan Smyth, who carried a Jarret Stoll pass up the right wing before cutting across the slot and wristing a shot past Niemi. Smyth allowed the rush to continue to the net as he cut from right to left before sending his shot just inside the right post.

San Jose would respond less than two minutes later in a big way.

Ryane Clowe would snap a shot over Quick's left shoulder at 15:24 after the big forward picked Matt Greene's pocket just outside the Kings blueline. Clowe skated right up the slot before uncorking his 13th goal of the season.

Devin Setoguchi would put another puck past Quick just 39 seconds later after he fired a shot on net from the right corner. Quick had the right post covered well, but the puck slipped underneath the Kings goaltender and trickled over the goal line for Setoguchi's 3rd goal in his past two games. Logan Couture was credited with the only assist on the goal, giving him 33 points as he heads to All Star Weekend.

Setoguchi almost made it a 3-1 game with 2 minutes left in the period, when Joe Thornton feathered a pass to the forward on his way to the net. Quick would get in front of Setoguchi's shot to keep his team within a single goal.

Anze Kopitar missed on a golden opportunity to tie things up 3 minutes into the 3rd period when his uncontested one-time chance from the slot hit the cross-bar. That would kick off a three minutes period in which the Kings controlled the puck and turned up the heat on Niemi.

It would end when Ponikarovsky pumped a shot through Niemie's five-hole after San Jose failed to clear the puck. With the Kings swarming in the Sharks zone, defenseman Niklas Wallin had the puck on his stick and a clear lane to clear it to safety, but a weak attempt laded right on Rob Scuderi's stick. A pass and a shot later, the puck was in the Sharks net.

Wellwood would get too anxious and jump on the ice before the Sharks could get a man off the ice, earning a penalty for too many men. The Sharks Achilles-heel would hold, preventing the Kings from converting.

Richardson would open up Murray's lip with a high stick to the mouth with 6:41 left in regulation to give the Sharks a four-minute power play. Devoid of any creativity with the man-advantage, San Jose would squander the opportunity, generating nothing in terms of energy or scoring chances.

In the overtime period, Niemi made a big stop on a Richardson chance 90 seconds in. The Kings forward cranked a one-time chance from the slot on a feed from the left wing boards.

Ponikarovsky had another chance a minute later when defenseman Jason Demers fell on his backside as the Kings left winger raced into the zone. Luckily for San Jose, his shot would sail wide of the net.

Setoguchi found himself on a partial breakaway moments later, but Jack Johnson would get back to deny the Sharks forward. Couture would get a crack at ending things in front of the net, but Quick denied the would-be game winner with a kick save off his toe.

In the shootout, Kopitar missed after trying to drag the puck past Niemi to the glove side, hitting the right post. Pavelski would chip a shot off Quick, sending it over the crossbar.

Johnson clanked a shot off the right post, but Couture would fail to capitalize after he mishandled the puck on his way to the net. Kings captain Dustin Brown tried to force a shot through the five-hole, but Niemi denied him. Clowe would try his backhand deek move, but Quick was waiting for it and got a glove on the shot to extend the shootout to a fourth shooter.

Stoll would give the Kings the goal they would need by snapping a shot over Niemi's glove for the first goal. Patrick Marleau continued his mastery of missing in the shootout by putting a weak attempt on net that Quick easily turned aside.


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1 2 3 OT SO T
SJ 0 2 0 0 0 2
LA 0 1 1 0 1 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, LA, Smyth 19 (Stoll, Williams), 13:35. 2, SJ, Clowe 13 (unassisted), 15:24. 3, SJ, Setoguchi 10 (Couture), 16:02.
3rd period - 4, LA, Ponikarovsky 4 (Handzus, Scuderi), 5:47.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - LA: Kopitar (miss), Johnson (miss), Brown (miss), Stoll (goal). SJ: Pavelski (miss), Couture (miss), Clowe (miss), Marleau (miss).
1st period - Smyth, LA (interference), 19:56.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Bench, SJ (too many men), 8:25; Richardson, LA (high sticking - double minor), 13:19.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 20 18
LA - Quick 24 22
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 8 8 7 1 24
LA 6 7 4 3 20
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
LA 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Jack Johnson
Logan Couture
Alexei Ponikarovsky
Referees: LaRue, Meier. Linesmen: Heyer, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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