Thornton on shootout opportunity: 'I've been begging coach'
Tomas Hertl couldn't contain his excitment after Joe Thornton converted on a second-period goal against the Kings. (USATSI)
SAN JOSE – In a game reflective of just how evenly matched the Sharks and Kings are against one another, Joe Thornton’s goal in the eighth round of the shootout was the difference in a 3-2 San Jose win at SAP Center on Wednesday night.
After 65 minutes, the Sharks and Kings each had two goals and 40 shots. Thornton’s shootout attempt snuck through Ben Scrivens, and Antti Niemi stopped Tyler Toffoli to end the game.
The Sharks improved to 3-0-0 on their five-game homestand, and are 6-1-1 in their last eight. Los Angeles fell to 7-0-4 in its last 11 games.
The Sharks took the lead with a pair of second period goals.
Joe Pavelski tied it at 1-1. Tyler Kennedy battled high in the zone before sliding the puck towards the crease, where it hit Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin in the skate. Pavelski found the loose disc and aired it over Scrivens’ shoulder at 2:43, with Marty Havlat causing a commotion in front.
Scrivens’ misplay of a Tomas Hertl rim gave San Jose the lead. Hertl wrapped the puck around the boards, and the Kings’ goalie attempted to play it to Willie Mitchell behind the net. Thornton was there to get a stick on it, though, and the puck bounced in off of Scrivens’ skate at 16:54 to make it 2-1.
The Kings got a fortunate goal of their own to tie it in the third, when Drew Doughty’s pass towards the slot went in of off Scott Hannan’s skate at 6:23. The game remained at 2-2 through regulation and overtime.
The Sharks’ penalty killers kept the game tied at 1-1 prior to Thornton’s goal. Dan Boyle was issued a double minor for high-sticking Justin Williams at 6:35, but San Jose was up to the task. Hannan, Logan Couture, Brad Stuart, and Tommy Wingels fought through tired legs to kill off the remaining minute-and-a-half of the infraction.
Conversely, the San Jose power play remained incredibly ineffective. The Sharks had three consecutive chances with a man advantage in the third with the game tied, but generated no prime scoring chances.
The Kings took the lead just 18 seconds into the game. Dwight King barreled over Hertl along the wall, and eventually set up Jeff Carter in front of the net. Carter deftly roofed the puck over Niemi for his sixth goal.
The Sharks outshot the Kings 18-8 in the first period, but Los Angeles responded with a 19-7 advantage in the second. Each team generated 40 shots through regulation and overtime.
The Kings have lost nine straight, including the playoffs, in San Jose.
The Pacific Division rivals meet three more times this season.
The Sharks finished 0-for-3, and are now zero their last 14. At home, the Sharks have failed to convert on their last 17 power plays.
Los Angeles was 0-for-4, including a late advantage when Couture was called for high-sticking at 16:29 of the third.
Niemi made 38 saves and improved to 6-1-0 against the Kings in his career at SAP Center.
In his first career appearance against San Jose, Scrivens made 38 saves.
Jonathan Quick remains out with a groin injury.
Matt Irwin returned from a six-game absence, paired with Boyle.
Andrew Desjardins, a healthy scratch on Saturday against New Jersey, returned to center the fourth line.
Matt Pelech was recalled on Tuesday but did not play.
St. Louis visits for a Friday matinee at 1 p.m., and Anaheim is in town on Saturday to close out San Jose’s homestand. The Sharks begin a four-game road trip in Toronto on Dec. 3.