Sharks extend dominance of L.A. with rare Thornton shootout goal
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)
When the shootout dragged on into the eighth round, San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan was running out of good options.
Joe Thornton made the most of a rare opportunity.
Thornton scored his first shootout goal since 2007 and the Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Wednesday night to extend the home-team dominance in this California rivalry.
''Coach doesn't tend to look my way in a shootout, but it was nice to be involved in one,'' Thornton said.
Thornton hadn't been used in a shootout since McLellan sent him out in the seventh round of an 11-round tiebreaker on Dec. 11, 2009, against Dallas. He hadn't scored in one since two years before that on Dec. 16, 2007, against Anaheim.
But McLellan saw that his players had success trying to deke Ben Scrivens as opposed to shooting the puck past him, so he gave Thornton a chance. He skated in and stuffed a backhand past Scrivens for what proved to be the game-winner.
''Obviously Jumbo's not a big shooter, but he can move his hands pretty well, and he ends up coming up with the win,'' McLellan said.
Antti Niemi then stopped Tyler Toffoli to seal it. Niemi made 38 saves as San Jose opened a difficult stretch of three games in four days against top-five teams.
Thornton and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Sharks, who have won nine straight at home against the Kings including the postseason. In all, the home team has won the last 14 matchups, including all seven in last spring's playoff series won by Los Angeles.
''It's kind of the same way they've beaten us in their rink — by one goal, comeback, or however it works out,'' Pavelski said. ''We know we can play with them. We 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.''
Scrivens made 38 saves.
''It was fun, though we came out at the wrong end of it,'' Scrivens said. ''They have some skill guys. It's a learning experience.''
The game was played with the high intensity expected from two fierce rivals with a recent playoff history who are at the top of their games. These teams have met twice in the past three postseasons, with each winning once, including Los Angeles' triumph in the second round last spring.
Each benefited from a fluky goal, with San Jose taking a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Thornton took the puck from Willie Mitchell behind the net and then Scrivens kicked in a loose puck.
The Kings got the fortunate bounce early in the third to tie the game when Doughty's centering pass hit defenseman Scott Hannan's skate and deflected past Niemi for the equalizer.
Los Angeles then killed off three successive minor penalties in a span of less than 7 minutes to preserve the tie and set the stage for shootout.
''It was pretty intense,'' Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ''We got off to a good start and I thought we played well in the second period and we're down, 2-1. We got it back and went deep into the shootout.''
The Kings jumped on top early when Dwight King knocked down Tomas Hertl on the opening shift and played a pass off the end boards to Carter, who banged it past Niemi just 18 seconds into the game.
The Sharks then dominated the second half of the period, but Scrivens stopped all 18 shots in the first to preserve a 1-0 lead.
Pavelski tied it early in the second when he got to a loose puck in the slot and lifted it over Scrivens for his ninth of the season.
Los Angeles failed to capitalize on a 4-minute power play when Boyle was called for high-sticking Justin Williams. Despite near constant pressure, Niemi stopped all six shots during the double minor to the delight of a sellout crowd that chanted ''Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!'' throughout the night.
NOTES: The Kings went 0 for 4 on the power play and have converted just three of their last 35 chances. . . . Thornton moved into sole possession of 50th place on the career points list with 1,143. . . . D Matt Irwin returned to the lineup for San Jose after being a healthy scratch for six straight games. Jason Demers sat out.