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Sharks hit the ground running in opener
SJ outclasses Kings in spirited game
10/12/16 - By Mike Lee -

It wasn't a Stanley Cup victory, but it was still sweet. With the sting of their oh-so-close loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins still lingering in the SAP Center air, the San Jose Sharks did the only they could do on Wednesday by hitting the ice. The Los Angeles Kings tried to exercise some of the demons of their playoff loss to San Jose by simply hitting as many Sharks as they could find. In the end, San Jose skated away with an entertaining 2-1 win over the Kings by brushing off the rough stuff and focusing on the style of play that got them to the Finals last Spring.

After shaking off some early rust, it was clear who the better team was. The Sharks controlled the tempo for most of the game, moving past an early Kings goal by chipping away at the undermanned Kings.

Things started auspiciously for San Jose, who may have been a bit amped up by en energetic pre-game ceremony. The Sharks unveiled a Western Conference Championship banner, which was accompanied by a series of videos and player introductions. The energy in the building was similar to the electricity that rang through the building last spring during the playoffs.

The season was all of 33 seconds old when Logan Couture tripped Anze Kopitar to put the Sharks in an early hole. Tyler Toffoli cashed in less than a minute later with a goal that had half the arena fooled. The Kings forward sent what's best described as a seeing-eye shot that floated from the right dot, slipping past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones on the near side.

The puck lodged itself between the net and the bar that runs behind the top of the crossbar. Couture sat in the penalty box unaware that the puck was in the net and had to be told to exit after the tally was recorded. Referee Grant Skilliter looked perplexed as the Kings started celebrating in front of Jones.

That would be it for Los Angeles in terms of generating anything resembling a threatening scoring chance the remainder of the game.

Couture atoned for this penalty later in the period after Kyle Clifford was sent off for running interference on new Sharks defenseman David Schlemko. The Sharks forward snapped a shot from the high slot, catching the cross bar for his first goal of the season. Referee Justin St Pierre waved off the goal, thinking it had hit the crossbar. That prompted Joe Thornton to chase the puck and poke it back into the net. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski followed suit after it appeared that Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped Thornton's follow up attempt.

Pavelski's poke at the puck set Quick off, initiating a tirade by the goaltender that saw everyone on the ice converge into a big scrum. Quick did everything in his power to get at Pavelski, but was rebuffed by the shear number of teal and white jerseys that were conjoined in front of the Kings goal.

The big question of the night, was if Quick was injured on the goal or the ensuing scrum, because he didn't return to start the 2nd period. Kings backup Jeff Zatkoff was forced to make his Kings debut, and was able to turn aside 15 shots. The problem for Los Angeles is the Sharks took 16 shots over the final 40 minutes.

Both teams traded 7 shots apiece in the middle period, but it was San Jose that controlled the puck for much of the period.

Brent Burns deposited what turned out to be the game winner on a fortuitous deflection 3:20 into the 3rd period. Couture worked a puck off the left wing boards with a kick pass to Joonas Donskoi, who grabbed the pass and tried to hit new linemate Mikkel Boedker with a pass through the slot. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had the near post covered and tried to block Donskoi's pass to the right side, but the puck deflected right to Burns who was cutting in down the slot. The big defenseman jammed the puck home for the 2-1 lead.

The Kings were outclassed the remainder of the period. Their main accomplishment was the 41 hits they landed on teal jerseyed skaters throughout the night. Add another 30 cross checks that went uncalled, and it was a bruising evening for the Kings.

Jones finished the evening with 21 saves for his first win of the season. The Kings reported that Quick suffered a lower body injury, but didn't disclose much beyond that.

Game Notes:

* The two teams finished even in the faceoff circle, winning 28 faceoffs each. Tommy Wingels won 4 of 7 faceoffs, playing center for the first time in his NHL career.

* Tomas Hertl led all Sharks with 6 hits. Matt Greene and Kyle Clifford accounted for 11 of the Kings 41 hits.

* Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau led San Jose with 4 shots apiece.

* 11 Sharks skaters recorded blocked shots, including Brent Burns who had a team high 4 blocks.


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1 2 3 T
LA 1 0 0 0
SJ 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, LA, Toffoli 1 (Kopitar, Doughty), 1:22, (pp). 2, SJ, Couture 1 (Pavelski, Thornton), 14:05, (pp).
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 3, SJ, Burns 1 (Donskoi, Couture), 3:20.
1st period - Couture, SJ (tripping), 0:33; Greene, LA (holding), 5:29; Clifford, LA (interference), 13:12; Quick, LA (roughing), 14:05; Pavelski, SJ (roughing), 14:05; Muzzin, LA (hooking), 19:49.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
Shots Saves
LA - Quick 15 14
LA - Zatkoff 16 15
SJ - Jones 22 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
LA 7 7 8 22
SJ 15 7 9 31
Power Play Conversion
LA 1 of 1
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Brent Burns
Tyler Toffoli
Referees: St Pierre, Skilliter. Linesmen: Nagy, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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