The Los Angeles Kings have sent a psychological message to their rival San Jose Sharks with a thrilling 2-1 win in overtime at SAP Center.
The Kings came out early with more energy following their win on December 31 against this same Sharks squad down in Los Angeles.
Defensive stalwart Marc-Edouard Vlasic was out again for the Sharks after suffering a facial injury in the Sharks’ win over the Philadelphia Flyers on December 30.
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The scratches for the Sharks were David Schlemko, Tommy Wingels, and Matt Nieto. Schlemko is battling an upper body injury. The scratches for the Los Angeles Kings were Tom Gilbert, Matt Greene, and Andy Andreoff.
The first period ended 0-0, but the Kings outshot the Sharks 16-6, which looked like a good sign, considering that the Sharks only give up 26.4 shots per game, second fewest in the league.
The Kings only give up 25.9 shots per game, and they held the Sharks to just 6 shots in the first period. The Sharks rank 10th in the NHL with 30.5 shots per game, and it really highlights how stingy the defense of the Kings is, considering that Peter Budaj only faced 20 shots in their last meeting.
7:35 into the first period, Brent Burns was called for interference against Kyle Clifford. The Sharks killed off the penalty without much drama.
Clifford returned the favor to Mirco Mueller 13:46 into the period, and was whistled for interference after delivering a hit late. The Kings not only killed off the penalty, but got more shots on goal during the two minute span than the Sharks did.
The Sharks didn’t look particularly sharp in the opening period, allowing 10 giveaways while the Kings committed just 3.
The Sharks did win the faceoff battle 10-6 over the Kings, though, despite ranking just 28th in the league in win percentage from the faceoff circle.
The Sharks nearly broke the tie early in the 2nd period, but a slick stick save from Budaj on Joonas Donskoi maintained the stalemate.
Logan Couture finally broke the tie 11:56 into the 2nd after launching a shot that trickled through under Budaj’s blocker side arm. Paul Martin and Kevin Lebanc got the assists.
Things got interesting after Burns yet again went to the penalty box 13:18 into the 2nd for holding Anze Kopitar.
On that Kings’ power play, it appeared as though Marian Gaborik tied the game on a deflection, but replays showed that he hit the puck into the net with his glove. The goal was waived off, and the Sharks proceeded to kill the penalty.
Gaborik was then called for high sticking on Mueller 17:46 into the 2nd. Kopitar had a shorthanded breakaway toward the end of the powerplay after the puck redirected off the referee, but Martin Jones robbed Kopitar with a nice glove save.
The shots on goal were more even in the 2nd period, with the Kings barely edging the Sharks 8-7, and the Kings improved in the faceoff circle by winning 17 to the Sharks’ 5 during the 2nd. However, they still trailed in the paramount category of goals, despite outshooting the Sharks 23-14 though 2 periods.
Justin Braun got called for hooking on Jeff Carter just 1:48 into the 3rd period. On the resulting power play, Jake Muzzin fired a shot from the left wing that was deflected by Carter and into the net to tie the game 3:03 into the 3rd. Kopitar joined Muzzin by getting credit for the assist.
About halfway to go in the 3rd, a scramble in the crease nearly resulted in a Sharks goal. Budaj dove to cover up the puck after a golden opportunity created by the stickhandling of Timo Meier.
Soon after, Melker Karlsson didn’t quite connect on a one-timer, and Budaj slid over to his right to make a great save.
The hectic stretch continued for the Kings when Nic Dowd was called for high sticking against Patrick Marleau 10:06 into the 3rd.
Tanner Pearson had a nice shorthanded opportunity and tried to beat Jones 5-hole, but the former Kings netminder preserved the tie. The Kings killed off the penalty successfully.
The end of the 3rd featured Budaj and Jones trading fantastic saves. The Sharks finally seemed to start getting more pucks on the net in the 3rd. With less than 4 minutes left, Brendan Dillon sent a rocket that deflected off of Alec Martinez and clanged off the post.
Dowd sent one off the post on the other end of the ice soon after as the chaotic ending continued. In a fitting development to this rivalry, the 3rd period concluded with a 1-1 tie. The Sharks outshot the Kings in a period for the first time in the 3rd, besting them 13-10.
Pearson ultimately delivered the win for the Kings after hitting the back of the net on a crisp pass from Carter 58 seconds into overtime.
The Kings outshot the Sharks 35-27. The Kings finished 1-3 on their powerplay chances, while the Sharks went 0-3.
The Kings will now head back to Los Angeles to begin a 7 game homestretch. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on January 5.