LaBanc scores in overtime, Sharks beat Kings 3-2
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The San Jose Sharks are looking like the Western Conference contenders that many are expecting this season.
“The guys played like we needed to win this game and we found a way to do it,” San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. “We lost our home opener and found a way to come into a tough building and I thought we played well.”
San Jose was defeated by Anaheim 5-2 in its opener on Wednesday, but looked better in its second game. Meanwhile, the Kings struggled to put the puck into the net, which has been a theme of the past couple seasons. They were outshot 33-21 and came up empty in five power-play opportunities.
“We were trying to rush plays in the first period. Once we got the first goal we kind of settled down and started making plays,” said Kings forward Anze Kopitar, who had a first-period goal.
The Sharks took a 2-0 first-period lead before Los Angeles rallied and forced the overtime.
Martin Jones made 19 saves as San Jose beat the Kings for the fourth time in its last five meetings.
Jonathan Quick made 30 saves for Los Angeles, which dropped to 0-5 when the Sharks are the opening opponent.
San Jose scored two goals on its first six shots in the first period. Timo Meier put the Sharks on the board at 9:42 of the first when he directed a Marc-Edward Vlasic shot near the blue line past Quick. Evander King followed four minutes later with a wrist shot after a turnover deep in the Kings’ end. It was his second goal of the season.
Los Angeles rallied as Kopitar scored off a deflected shot late in the first period that cut the deficit in half. Tyler Toffoli grabbed a deflection off the end boards and fired it past Jones 37 seconds into the second, tying the score at 2-all.
The game appeared to be headed to a shootout, but Logan Couture found Labanc rushing to the net and hit him with a perfect pass to beat Quick. Erik Karlsson, who San Jose acquired in a trade during the offseason, also got an assist, his first point with the Sharks.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to start out a road trip with a win,” Labanc said. “The refs were not giving us the calls we wanted but we played our battle.”
Ilya Kovalchuk made his Kings’ debut and saw 20 minutes of ice time.
The 35-year old Russian, who was playing in his first NHL game since 2013 after five seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, was the right winger on Los Angeles’ top line with Kopitar centering and Alex Iafallo at left wing. Kovalchuk took two shots on goal.
“We got to score on our chances. We had a few on our line and we didn’t score,” Kovalchuk said. “It was our first game and you know everybody is real nervous and the Sharks played their second game and you can tell they feel a little better. I think against Detroit it will be much better.”
Sharks: Continue their five-game road trip on Monday at the New York Islanders.
Kings: Host Detroit on Sunday before going on the road for four straight.