Kings capitalize on Sharks' mistakes
The Kings improved to 32 points compared with the Sharks' 30 points after Saturday night's game. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – In a bid for their first back-to-back regulation wins since the end of January, the Sharks were spanked by the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center on Saturday night, 5-2.
Leading 2-0 after the first, the Kings increased that to 5-1 in the second, but not before the Sharks nearly tied it up.
Patrick Marleau’s goal just 35 seconds into the second period cut the Kings’ lead to 2-1. Brent Burns drove behind the net and fed Joe Thornton, who flubbed the shot, but the rebound went right to Marleau for his 14th goal.
At 7:58 of the second, Tommy Wingels broke in alone on net, but was slashed from behind by 20-year-old Tyler Toffoli, making his NHL debut. Wingels was awarded a penalty shot, but Jonathan Bernier’s glove save on Wingels’ attempt preserved the Los Angeles lead.
The Kings took over from there. Jarret Stoll made it 3-1 at 11:15 when Trevor Lewis’ shot hit Stoll in the backside before settling on Stoll’s stick blade. Stoll slid it between Niemi’s wickets for his fifth. Exactly two-and-a-half minutes later, Kyle Clifford got his second of the night by banging in a loose puck in the crease after Dustin Penner raced in alone with Justin Braun in pursuit.
Antti Niemi was pulled for Alex Stalock at that point, and Stalock allowed a wrist shot by Dwight King to beat him on the far side at 18:56 making it 5-1 at the second intermission and essentially deciding the game.
The Sharks won the first half of the home-and-home on Thursday at HP Pavilion, 4-3, snapping a four-game losing streak. They haven’t won two straight in regulation since Jan. 26-27.
The game was the first of a five-game road trip for San Jose. The Sharks fell to just 4-8-2 away from HP Pavilion, and have scored just 17 goals in their last 12 on the road.
Burns now has two goals and three assists in three games as a forward. His second assist came on Matt Irwin’s goal in the final minute of the third period to make it 5-2.
The Sharks and Kings combined for just three minor penalties on the night, each coming in the third period. The Sharks finished 1-for-2, when Irwin’s blast beat Jonathan Bernier with 48 seconds left. L.A. was 0-for-1.
In the second period, Clifford and Douglas Murray engaged in a spirited bout in which Murray seemed to get in the better punches.
Niemi allowed four goals on 18 shots before he was removed from the game. It’s the second time in his last five starts that he didn’t make it past the second period.
Stalock faced just six shots and stopped five.
Bernier, who replaced Jonathan Quick on Thursday after Quick allowed three goals to the Sharks, made 20 saves on 22 shots.
Ryane Clowe left after the first period and did not return. There was no immediate update on his status.
The Sharks did not make any lineup changes from Thursday’s win over the Kings. Thomas Greiss (sore neck) remains on injured reserve and could join the team at some point on its road trip, while Marty Havlat (lower body) is nearing a return.
The Sharks continue their trip on Monday in Anaheim, the third time they will play the Kings and Ducks on the same trip. On Wednesday the Sharks are in Edmonton to conclude the season series with the Oilers, and face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The trip ends back in Anaheim on Monday, March 25.