Sharks hold serve at home in battle vs. Kings

Highlights: Sharks outlast Kings in shootout

Sharks hold serve at home in battle vs. Kings
November 27, 2013, 11:45 pm
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The Sharks have won nine straight games against the Kings in San Jose, including the playoffs. (AP)

SAN JOSE – At some point, the Sharks and the Kings might have to stage a neutral site game in the San Luis Obispo area just to determine which team is better.

In a common theme when the two California rivals meet, the Sharks edged the Kings in a shootout at home on Wednesday night, 3-2. San Jose has now won nine in a row at SAP Center against the Kings, including three games in last spring’s playoffs. The Kings own the Sharks at Staples Center lately, winning the last seven.

Perhaps the home ice advantage really does play a factor in determining which team will pocket that all-important second point in the standings. On Wednesday, Joe Thornton’s goal in the eighth round of the shootout was the difference.

“Both teams compete hard against each other,” Thornton said. “You knew it was going to come down to overtime or a shootout, and it did. You’re just happy to get the two points.”

McLellan said: “These are fun games to play. I think both teams like to play against each other. Pretty entertaining night.”

The Sharks held a 2-1 lead after two periods thanks to goals from Joe Pavelski and Thornton, who was credited with his third goal on a fortunate bounce off of Ben Scrivens’ skate. Los Angeles tied it in the third when Drew Doughty’s pass to the slot went in off of Scott Hannan’s foot.

Each team had 40 shots to go along with two goals once the horn sounded ending overtime. In the shootout, goals by Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Dan Boyle were equaled by Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Dustin Brown.

McLellan pointed his finger in Thornton’s direction in the top of the eighth. The captain was able to finesse the puck past Scrivens, while Antti Niemi stopped Tyler Toffoli to give San Jose its third win in as many games on a five-game homestand.

The Sharks’ head coach explained his shootout strategy.

“We were beating [Scrivens] with some dekes, rather than the shot. We tried to look for people that could do that. Obviously, Jumbo's not a big shooter, but he can move his hands pretty well, and he ends up coming up with the win."

Thornton said: “Coach doesn’t tend to look my way in a shootout, but it was nice to be involved in one.”

Hannan was involved not only in the unfortunate game-tying goal, but was on the ice when the Kings took a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game on Jeff Carter’s marker. That didn’t take the wind out of the Sharks' sails, though, as San Jose outshot the Kings 18-8 over the first 20 minutes and eventually took a 2-1 lead in the second.

“It’s definitely not the way you want to start the game, but the guys did a great job,” Hannan said. “We came back and got a lot of shots, and that created pressure.”

The 34-year-old defenseman was also on the ice for a key penalty kill in the second. Boyle went off on a double-minor for high-sticking Williams at 6:35, but Hannan was part of a foursome that kept the Kings at bay for the final minute and a half of their extended power play.

“We’ve had a couple of those the last couple games, and it’s everybody bearing down and sticking to it,” Hannan said. “We had a couple tough bounces with the puck and couldn’t get it out, but guys just buckled down.”

The Kings came back to tie it in the third, but the Sharks found a way to hold serve at home, once again.

Next up? Trying to get a win at Staples Center on Dec. 19, in their only other game there this regular season. The Kings won 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 30.

Pavelski said: “We know we can play with them. We’ve had our chances to win there. They are probably saying the same thing here. We’ve got to find ways to win in their building, as well, but this was a good win for us tonight.”