STAPLES CENTER — The San Jose Sharks’ attempt to score back-to-back victories against their rivals and defending Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings went so awry that coach Todd McLellan’s first words post-game were:
“How freaking disappointing is that?”
The 5-2 loss was disappointing throughout for the Sharks, who found themselves swimming against fate down four goals at the start of the final period. A major turnaround from Thursday at HP Pavilion, when San Jose beat L.A. 4-3.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
Video: CSN Bay Area
“We were lucky enough to win one in San Jose. We come here, you got to think we would be chomping at the bit and be ready in to go, and they’re going to push you and what a great opportunity for our team to test themselves collectively, but also individually.”
San Jose missed an opportunity in front of a sold-out Staples crowd of 18,118. Asked whether focusing on the Kings’ affected the start of his team’s game, McLellan said:
“Not one bit. Not one friggin’ bit.”
The Kings’ Kyle Clifford set the tone 2:27 into the game, scoring a bad angle goal from the right circle that Sharks goalie Antti Niemi should have stopped.
The defending champions would hold San Jose scoreless in the first period while adding another of their own. Niemi would stop Justin Williams’ initial shot, but it bounced off defenseman Brad Stuart’s shoulder and into the net.
Kings forward Kyle Clifford
“We came out and we had a big start, and that kind of put them on their heels a little bit and we just took it to them.”
The Sharks came out on the attack early in the second period, with Patrick Marleau’s goal 35 seconds in on a rebound off initial shot from Joe Thornton.
San Jose’s Tommy Wingels, though, would miss a chance to tie the game with a penalty shot. He described his attempt:
Sharks forward Tommy Wingels
“I went down with a shooter mentality. I thought I could beat him with a shot and he made a good save.”
The Sharks’ hopes for a comeback sunk, though, with the Kings scoring back to back to back goals in the rest of the second period – two goals within 2:30 and three goals within 7:41, to give themselves a insurmountable 5-1 advantage over San Jose.
Said Niemi of the fourth goal he let slip, after which he was pulled for Alex Stalock:
“At first I thought I had to close the five hole and then, I didn’t. I think it went to the post side and I was in the goal line so it was hard to battle.”
The final period was a dry spell for both teams, save for defenseman Matt Irwin’s power play goal at 19:10. It was too little too late.
Sharks center Joe Thornton summed up the loss clean and clear:
Sharks center Joe Thornton
“If you don’t have an ‘A’ game, you have to have a ‘B’ game. And tonight, some guys had their ‘D’ game and at this level, it just can’t happen against these elite teams. Just too many guys didn’t have their ‘A’ or ‘B’ game tonight.”
The Sharks’ effort paled in comparison to their nemeses’ from a few days prior. The Kings fought back from a 4-1 deficit, losing 4-3.
The Sharks, eighth in the west, are hanging to the playoffs by a thread. Asked if this was the Sharks’ worst lost of the season, McLellan said:
Center Michal Handzus has one goal in 27 games this season, and only three in his last 46 games. … After scoring at least four goals in each of the Sharks first five games, San Jose has scored no more than three goals in 21 of their last 22 games. … The Kings haven’t lost more than two consecutive games in regulation all season. … Kings center Tyler Toffoli, a second round pick of Los Angeles in 2010, made his NHL debut. … Niemi made only 14 saves on 18 shots.