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SAN JOSE – It took 40 minutes for the Sharks to stop trying to be pretty with the puck, and start getting it on net at every opportunity.
It happened too late.
San Jose was unable to find the equalizing goal against Jonathan Quick and the Kings, losing 1-0 to their rivals from the south on Monday night at SAP Center. Rather than gain a sizeable lead over Los Angeles for second place in the Pacific Division and extend the Kings’ losing streak to six games, Los Angeles climbed to within eight points of the Sharks and ended San Jose’s six-game run of success.
There were no surprises. No player on either team gave up an opportunity to throw a hit or get in front of a shot. The Sharks had 28 hits to the Kings’ 27, and blocked 24 shots to Los Angeles’ 22.
“We got the game we thought we'd get from both teams, very tightly contested game,” Todd McLellan said. “Not a lot of chances at either end. They buried their one opportunity, and we had a couple we didn't, and that's probably the end of the story.”
The Sharks had just nine shots on goal through two periods, while the Kings had 13. But, Los Angeles also had the game’s only goal at that point, coming when Anze Kopitar converted on a pass from Jeff Carter that a diving Brent Burns got a piece of as it traveled through the slot.
That was the only puck to beat Alex Stalock, who fell to 7-3-0 on the season, and who earlier broke the Sharks’ franchise record for shutout streak by a goaltender at more than 178 minutes.
“We had a guy coming back, [Carter] passed it across, and we got a stick on it and maybe it slowed it down and bought [Kopitar] a little bit of time,” Stalock said. “He ended up beating me on a one-on-one play.”
San Jose stepped up its offense in the third getting 14 shots on Quick, but none of which found their way in. Being forced to kill off a double-minor to Joe Pavelski for whacking Kopitar in the face at 10:08 made the task all the more difficult, even though they seemed to take some momentum from successfully doing do.
“I think our penalty kill at the end there gave us a chance to win the game,” Wingles said. “When you kill off a four-minute penalty you get some momentum off of it, and I think we did. Ultimately, with your penalty kill you want to keep yourself in the game, and I think in the third there we did a good job with that.”
“I thought we were going to win the game after we had that kill,” Bracken Kearns said.
At the same time…
“Obviously, that’s four minutes that are no longer are left in the period,” Wingels said.
The Sharks’ best chance to score came less than two minutes after puck drop. Kearns, who had three of the Sharks’ nine shots through two periods, had the puck on his backhand in the slot but flubbed the first attempt and couldn’t get it over a sprawled out Quick’s glove on a second effort.
“Maybe if I’m a little more patient, I can put it home,” Kearns said. “But, that hurt. That hurt a lot.”
McLellan said: “With Quick, you can't let up - you almost have to have a little more poise and hold it a bit longer and get the puck up, and he didn't quite do that. But, he created opportunities for himself.”
Los Angeles has gained seven of eight possible points in the four games against the Sharks this season, as San Jose’s lone win came via shootout on Nov. 27. Three of the four have been decided by one goal.
“Every game we seem to play against them, it’s a one-goal game, and offense is at a premium and so are shots,” Joe Thornton said. “I think both teams played real well defensively, and they got the break with one goal.”