Sharks hang on to beat Kings
Brent Burns has scored two goals since moving to forward. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said on Thursday morning that he eventually plans on moving Brent Burns back to the blue line at some point.
He may have to start rethinking that plan.
In his second straight game as a forward, Burns scored a first period goal and generated another in the third, and the Sharks held on for a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion on Thursday night. Logan Couture had two goals and an assist.
It was the first time since Jan. 27 against Vancouver that the Sharks reached four goals, as they ended a four-game losing streak. The Sharks and defending Stanley Cup champions meet again on Saturday in Southern California.
While Burns and Couture paced the offense, it was a play by a fourth line winger who has struggled to stay in the lineup that changed the course of the game.
Andrew Desjardins lined up Kings forward Colin Fraser and drilled him with a hard, clean shoulder in the second period. While Fraser struggled to get to his skates, Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin engaged Desjardins for a lengthy fight, giving the Sharks a four-minute power play with minors for instigation, instigation while wearing a visor, and a 10-minute misconduct at 5:59.
San Jose capitalized on both ends. First, Matt Irwin’s harmless looking wrist shot got past Jonathan Quick at 7:07, and may have deflected off of defenseman Drew Doughty’s stick on its way in. Couture’s wrist shot from high in the zone, with traffic in front of the crease, gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead. It was the Sharks’ largest lead since Jan. 27, when they beat Vancouver 4-1.
The Sharks nearly made it 4-0 after a Justin Braun hooking penalty at 9:27. Adam Burish’s tip in on a rush got through Jonathan Bernier, but trickled just wide. The Kings quickly transitioned on a rush the other way, and Dustin Brown made it a 3-1 game with a wrist shot over Antti Niemi’s far shoulder at 9:48.
Bernier had replaced Quick, who allowed three goals on 12 shots, after Couture’s first marker.
Burns and Couture teamed up to give the Sharks back their three-goal cushion early in the third. Burns poked the puck away from the Kings’ Alec Martinez, and slid the puck to Couture on a two-on-none rush for an easy goal by Couture just 27 seconds after the faceoff to make it 4-1.
Brown took advantage of a lazy shift by Thornton in the defensive zone to make it 4-2 at 12:48 of the third with a wrist shot from the slot for his second of the game. Dwight King’s goal on a rebound at 16:40 cut San Jose’s lead to 4-3 with 3:20 to go, but that’s as close as the Kings would come.
Niemi stopped Justin Williams’ backhander with 16 seconds left to preserve the win.
Niemi kept the Sharks in the game early. Los Angeles dominated territorially for most of the first period, but the Sharks’ goaltender stopped Williams on a Kings power play, a Jeff Carter wrist shot on a two-on-one rush, and Anze Kopitar’s attempt from close range with less than two minutes to go.
The Sharks were outshot 16-6 over the first 20 minutes, but led 1-0 thanks to Burns’ second goal in as many games. Burns buried a loose puck in the slot after a point shot by Patrick Marleau rattled around in front of the cage at 11:09.
Head coach Todd McLellan recorded his 207th career win, becoming the all-time winningest Sharks coach, surpassing Ron Wilson.
The Sharks scored multiple power play goals for just the second time in the last 21 games. They finished 2-for-3, and killed off two of three Kings power plays.
Bernier made 13 saves in relief of Quick, and suffered the hard-luck loss, just his second of the season against five wins.
Niemi, who has started 12 of the last 13 games, picked up with 11th win with 34 saves.
Injured Sharks Marty Havlat (lower body) and Thomas Greiss (sore neck) skated on Thursday morning, but both remain on injured reserve.
The Sharks visit the Staples Center on Saturday in what is the first of a five-game road trip. It continues in Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota and then back in Anaheim before the Sharks return to HP Pavilion on March 27 to host the Ducks.