Sharks 2, Kings 1, SO

Ryane Clowe and Antti Niemi sent the San Jose Sharks into their
Christmas break on a positive note.

Clowe scored the lone shootout goal in the fourth round and
Niemi stopped Mike Richards to lead the Sharks to their fourth
straight win, 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.

Logan Couture scored in regulation for the Sharks, who matched
their longest winning streak of the season following a stretch of
five losses in six games.

”Going in with a win was important,” coach Todd McLellan said.
”We’re starting to feel a little bit better about ourselves again.
It’s something we want to maintain coming back on the 26th.”

Richards scored the lone goal for the Kings, who had won their
previous two games in a shootout. But Dustin Brown, who had the
winners in those two contests, was stopped by Niemi in the third
round this time. Los Angeles has scored fewer than three goals in
regulation for 14 straight games – the longest such streak in
franchise history.

”We had the opportunities but it went to a shootout and our
scorers couldn’t get one past their goalie,” Brown said.

After neither team scored in the first three rounds of the
shootout, Clowe beat Quick with a forehand to the glove side. Clowe
decided to change things up after usually going to his backhand in
previous shootout encounters with Quick.

The decision paid off as he scored for the second time in four
career attempts against Quick.

”I felt pretty confident in the forehand move now because of
the fact it’s worked a couple of times this year,” Clowe said.
”He stopped me last year on my backhand so I figured I’d try
this.”

Niemi ended it when he stopped Brown. Niemi also made 28 saves
before the shootout.

The Kings were playing their second game under new coach Darryl
Sutter, who won his Los Angeles debut Thursday night 3-2 in a
shootout against Anaheim.

”We played better as the game went on and we had a real good
third period,” Sutter said. ”The effort was great, but what will
stick out is not being able to bury one of our other chances.”

The Sharks had most of the chances in a scoreless third period,
when neither team was able to break a 1-all tie. Quick made 14
saves in the period, including a tough one early against Couture.
The Kings also killed two penalties and escaped a dicey situation
with less than 5 minutes to go when Drew Doughty just got his stick
on Patrick Marleau’s rebound attempt in front of an empty net,
deflecting it wide.

The teams traded goals in the second period, with Couture
striking first for San Jose and Richards getting the equalizer for
Los Angeles on the power play with 1:08 left.

Couture got his 15th goal on a sharp one-timer from the faceoff
circle off a feed from Clowe midway through the period.

San Jose was unable to maintain the lead as its porous
penalty-killing unit once again failed in a key spot after a
questionable interference call against Couture. The Sharks, who are
tied for the second-worst penalty-kill percentage in the NHL, had
killed 10 straight penalties before Richards struck for his 13th
goal of the season.

Anze Kopitar won control of the puck along the boards with three
Sharks in the area. He sent a pass cross-ice to Richards, who was
alone in the faceoff circle and beat Niemi with a wrist shot.
Richards has scored in back-to-back games after missing the
previous eight with a concussion.

The teams combined for only 12 shots – seven by Los Angeles –
during a scoreless first period that did include a few good scoring
chances for each side.

After a bad line change by San Jose, Brad Richardson was all
alone at the side of the net but couldn’t get off a clean shot,
allowing Niemi to make a pad save.

Benn Ferriero then couldn’t get his stick on a pass from Joe
Thornton on a 2-on-1 opportunity for San Jose later in the period.
The Sharks had two good scoring chances on a late power play, but
Quick stopped Joe Pavelski at the side of the net. Justin Braun
then missed the net on a big slap shot in the final minute of the
period.

Notes: Los Angeles was 4 for 56 over its past 15-plus games on
the power play before Richards’ goal. … Sharks D Marc-Edouard
Vlasic set a franchise record with eight blocked shots. … The
Sharks recalled G Antero Niittymaki from his conditioning
assignment with Worcester after he underwent hip surgery in
September. San Jose will carry three goalies for the time being.
Thomas Greiss served as the backup to Niemi against the Kings.