Kings edge Sharks in heavyweight bout
SAP CENTER — Tightly-checked contests with a lack of score have been part of the Sharks repertoire as of late.
Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
None of them, however, were as hard-hitting or of playoff caliber as their Monday night match with the hated LA Kings.
In addition to extending their winning streak, the Sharks were looking for a “revenge victory” in their first tilt against the Kings since December 19, when, down in LA, Dustin Brown went knee-to-knee with Tomas Hertl to put the rookie on extended IR.
Monday was not the night for redemption however, as they were shut out by Jonathan Quick and the SoCal rivals 1-0.
It was a defensive game through and through, head coach Todd McLellan explained:
“A very tightly contested game. Not a lot of chances on either end. They buried their one opportunity. We had a couple that we didn’t. And that’s probably the end of the story.”
Captain Joe Thornton agreed:
“Every game we seem to play against them it seem to be a one goal game. Offense is at a premium and so are shots. I think both teams played real well defensively and they got the break with one goal.”
The contest was tight right from the opening faceoff, with the Sharks looking particularly strong on the penalty kill in the middle of the period.
Defense was superior on both ends of the ice — as were the heavy hits — with shots at only 8-4 in favor of LA after the first 20 minutes.
Stalock was clutch between the pipes, keeping heavy hitters such as Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter — with four shots on goal each in the first period — from putting the visitors on the scoreboard.
Both defenses made huge stops in the second, but the Kings eventually broke through when Kopitar’s wrist shot in the paint got the jump on the Sharks goaltender. Carter and Jake Muzzin tallied assists as LA took a 1-0 lead with 2:04 left in the period.
Stalock described the lone goal from his point of view:
“It was kind of a two on one and half, I guess. We had a guy coming back. He passed it across, we got a stick on it. Maybe it slowed it down and bought him a little time and he ended up beating me on a one on one play.”
Prior to the goal, Stalock reached 178:55 minutes of shutout hockey during that second period, breaking the Sharks’ franchise record previously set by Evgeni Nabokov.
Despite the record being overshadowed by the loss, McLellan was nothing but complimentary of the young goalie’s performance:
“Alex was real good. Excellent experience for him to play against that team. To fight through their size and their strength around the net, their deflections, is very solid. We’re happy with it.”
San Jose continued to look dominant on defense and the penalty kill into the third stanza, particularly when they killed off a Joe Pavelski double minor. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the back of the net.
The Sharks hit the road mid-week to face Edmonton and Calgary. They return to the Tank Saturday, February 1 to host the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks penalty kill was 5-for-5. San Jose has killed 10 out of the last 10 Kings power plays they’ve faced this season. … Alex Stalock set a new Sharks franchise record for longest shutout streak, posting 178:55 of scoreless play from Jan. 5’s third period at Chicago to Jan. 27’s second period vs. Los Angeles. In his last five starts, Stalock has posted a 4-1-0 record, a 1.00 goals against average and a .966 save percentage.