Pavelski leads Sharks’ 5-1 rout of LA Kings in season opener
LOS ANGELES (AP) After the Los Angeles Kings scored a goal on their first shot, coach Peter DeBoer thought his San Jose Sharks played a practically perfect game for his debut.
And as usual in this rivalry, both teams left the building with hard feelings about some heavy hits.
Captain Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists, and Joonas Donskoi scored in his NHL debut in the Sharks’ 5-1 victory Wednesday night in both clubs’ season opener.
Joe Thornton and Brent Burns had a goal and an assist apiece, and Tomas Hertl also scored as the Sharks thoroughly dominated their California rivals in DeBoer’s successful start with his new club. Pavelski was outstanding in his first game since being named the permanent captain of the Sharks, who won a season opener at Staples Center for the second straight year.
”Not much went wrong tonight,” said DeBoer, the former New Jersey coach tasked with revitalizing a perennial contender. ”I think the game was the culmination of a month of hard work.”
Those details included several crushing hits and a parade of third-period penalties – all the typical stuff in this West Coast series.
Kings forward Milan Lucic topped it all and punctuated his debut with a match penalty for following Logan Couture to the Sharks’ bench and clobbering him with 1:19 to play, setting off a major scuffle. Couture had exited the penalty box and upended Lucic with a low check moments earlier.
”I just finished my check,” Couture said. ”That’s hockey, right? You’re supposed to finish your checks. I didn’t think there was players that you’re not allowed to hit in this league.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter thought Lucic deserved ”a minor penalty … at best.”
”I don’t know why I got a match penalty,” Lucic said. ”I didn’t cross any line.”
Martin Jones made 19 saves in his own debut for the Sharks against his former team, stopping everything after the Kings’ first shot. Nick Shore scored 1:49 into the first period.
”I thought we did a good job bouncing back,” Jones said. ”We were really solid, start to finish.”
Jones came up through the Kings’ system and spent the past two years as Jonathan Quick’s backup before leaving last summer in a trade with Boston, which flipped him to San Jose.
Quick stopped 27 shots for the Kings, who lost their season opener for the third time in four seasons under Sutter.
”We were pretty sloppy,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. ”Sloppy in our rushes, sloppy in our (defensive) zone. That was probably most of it. We weren’t competing in the corner and making hard plays coming out of our zone. We didn’t play very well.”
San Jose routed the Kings 4-0 and chased Quick from last year’s season opener, spoiling Los Angeles’ banner-raising ceremony for its second Stanley Cup title in three years. Both California clubs then missed the postseason, but returned last month with renewed optimism after an unusually long summer for two regular playoff teams.
”This is a team that takes pride in being competitive, and tonight it just didn’t seem to be that way all the way through,” new Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said.
Even before Lucic and Couture exchanged pleasantries, the game featured plenty of the heavy hits and hard feelings common to this simmering rivalry.
Brown blasted Couture with an aggressive, open-ice check during the first period, but Couture stayed in the game despite a cut on his nose from Brown’s helmet. Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene then leveled Barclay Goodrow with a debatable check in the third period, setting off two fights.
And Couture barreled into Quick during a 2-on-1 with 3:30 to play, prompting Quick to smack Couture in the face.
Jones had little work to do while the Kings managed just eight shots in a 36-minute stretch, but he came up with an excellent stop in the second period on a point-blank chance for Tyler Toffoli, his former roommate.
Donskoi, a Finnish free agent who won a roster spot out of training camp, scored in the third period. The 23-year-old former Florida draft pick had spent his entire pro career in Finland.
NOTES: Los Angeles went 0 for 6 on the power play, including 90 seconds of 5-on-3 play. … Shore’s goal was the second-fastest in Kings home opener history, topped only by Pat Conacher’s goal 30 seconds into the 1995 opener against Colorado. … Dodgers RF Andre Ethier watched the game on the glass.