Sharks spoil Kings’ Stanley Cup party
After an long, uncomfortable offseason following a historic playoff collapse, the Sharks played like a team embittered by watching the Kings raise their Stanley Cup banner at Staples Center.
Tommy Wingels led the way with two goals as San Jose dominated a sluggish Los Angeles squad, shutting them out 4-0 to begin the season Wednesday night.
Wingels’ first came at the 5:43 mark of the first period, firing a wicked wrist shot from a steep angle past Jonathan Quick. The goal was manufactured by the Sharks’ new third line of Wingels and newcomers Chris Tierney and Tye McGinn, who received an assist.
Then came a flurry of two goals in 14 seconds in the period’s latter stages. Wingels, at 15:50 of the period, burst through the middle of the ice between two Kings’ defenders and finished after a gorgeous forehand-to-backhand deke that fooled Quick.
Quick then misplayed a dump-in by the Sharks behind the net on the ensuing face-off, allowing Matt Nieto to score on an empty net to give the Sharks a 4-0 lead.
Antti Niemi, who rather surprisingly got the opening night start over Alex Stalock, did not face a lot of sustained pressure but stopped all 34 shots he faced. The highlight was a pad save on a Jeff Carter wraparound attempt.
The Kings actually outshot the Sharks 34-30, but opportune goals by the Sharks and standout play by Niemi in his 28th career shutout gave the Sharks the win.
The Sharks also stymied all five of the Kings’ power plays, including a crucial kill midway through the second period that prevented the Kings from cutting the Sharks’ lead to 2-1 and gaining momentum. They also denied a Kings’ 5-on-3 power play in the last 63 seconds of the game.
This is the Sharks’ first ever shutout in season opener. … The Sharks came out strong right away, winning 15 of 23 face-offs and outshooting the Kings 15-11 in the first period. … San Jose began the season without a designated captain. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski wore “A” badges tonight. … Mike Brown dropped the gloves with Kyle Clifford midway through the first for the season’s first fisticuffs. … Kings’ backup goaltender Martin Jones replaced Quick at the start of the third. … Burns looked solid in his first game back at defense, recording two assists and leading all Sharks in ice time.