Despite owning one of the best records in the NHL, San Jose can't
find a way to beat the Kings in Los Angeles. For the 12th time in
the last 13 games, Los Angeles emerged with two points against its
bitter Northern California rival.
Goaltender Martin Jones earned his seventh consecutive victory with
a 31-save performance, and wingers Tyler Toffoli, Dwight King and
Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist to power the Kings to a
4-1 victory Thursday.
Los Angeles (24-8-4) climbed within a point of the Pacific
Division-leading Anaheim Ducks as Jones continued the historic start
to his rookie season. With a win over the Colorado Avalanche on
Saturday, he would equal the record for consecutive wins to start an
NHL career set by the Philadelphia Flyers' Bob Froese in the 1982-83
The Sharks grudgingly praised the rookie netminder after the defeat
while admitting their ability to score with the man advantage killed
any chance of leaving Southern California with a win.
"That goalie has been playing good, obviously," San Jose winger Joe
Pavelski said. "We had a few scrambles, but when we get that amount
of power-play time that we had, we have to get it moving and get
Jones clearly outplayed his counterpart, Antti Niemi. Los Angeles'
first goal was stoppable and gave the Kings momentum, but Niemi's
teammates failed to pick him up at other moments.
"He knows that, we know it, his teammates know it, but we are
talking about one individual who wears the goalie pads," San Jose
coach Todd McLellan said of Niemi. "There are some others who didn't
have a very good night. The focus can't just go on him."
Toffoli said the team's consistent effort was the key to the
victory, and killing off a major penalty to winger Dustin Brown was
the turning point.
"We came out strong in the first period and we had a big kill to
start the second period, and that kind of changed the game for us,"
Toffoli said. "We kept putting pressure, lots of shots on net, and
we just got the lead and kept playing with it."
The Kings opened the scoring when defenseman Alec Martinez potted
his third goal of the season at 5:26 of the second period. Toffoli
gained possession behind the San Jose net and lifted a blind
backhand pass to the point, and Martinez's floating wrist shot beat
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Toffoli made it 2-0 when he took a long lead pass from
defenseman Slava Voynov and beat Niemi with a wrist shot at
11:15. Jones notched his first NHL point with the secondary
The Kings extended the lead to 3-0 in the first minute of the
final period when Carter notched his 10th goal of the season.
King beat San Jose defenseman Justin Braun along the left
boards, then paused and fed Carter, who beat a helpless Niemi.
King gave Los Angeles an insurmountable 4-0 lead at 6:21 when he
converted off a goalmouth scramble that was initiated by a shot
from the point by defenseman Robyn Regehr. King's 10th of the
season is a career high, and he appears to have found a home on
a line with Carter and center Anze Kopitar.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said the attitude his team
displays against San Jose at home extends throughout the season.
"I don't think our team ever really struggles with confidence,"
he said. "It does not really matter what the score is, I don't
think confidence is an issue for our team."
Sharks rookie winger Tomas Hertl suffered a knee injury late in
the first period when Brown delivered a knee-on-knee hit just
inside the blue line. Brown was assessed a five-minute penalty
and a game misconduct and Hertl did not return to the game after
limping to the bench.
Center Patrick Marleau scored San Jose's lone goal in the final
three minutes. The Sharks (21-8-6) are struggling in December,
going 3-5-1 while falling to third place in the Pacific
Division. Winger Marty Havlat earned the lone assist on
Marleau's team-leading 16th marker.
NOTES: Sharks LW Patrick Marleau played in his 1,200th NHL game.
He is the 11th active player to appear in 1,200 games and the
16th player ever to appear in that many games for one franchise.
... San Jose did not dress D Jason Demers and LW John McCarthy .
... The Kings activated C Colin Fraser and returned rookie C
Linden Vey to their AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H. ... Los
Angeles scratched LW Daniel Carcillo, RW Matt Frattin and D
Willie Mitchell. Mitchell missed his third consecutive game with
an upper-body injury. ... Two Kings celebrated milestones, D
Drew Doughty played in his 400th career NHL game, and RW Justin
Williams appeared in his 300th game in a Los Angeles uniform.
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