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Kings drop series opener in 4-3 loss to Sharks

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES – In a game that see-sawed back and forth, Joe Pavelski’s wraparound goal 17 seconds into the third period proved to be the deciding marker in the Kings’ 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at STAPLES Center.

For the Kings, it was their third consecutive loss to the Sharks on home ice, San Jose has been victorious in every visit to Los Angeles this season.

“We weren’t very good. We just weren’t very good,” said Dustin Brown. “Everyone can be better so it’s just a matter of — again, this is the time of year where you can’t dwell on it. Learn from it and go on and we’ve got a lot left in us.”

The Kings took an early edge in the game when they scored 2:53 minutes into Martin Jones’ first career postseason start.

While working the puck in the Sharks’ zone, Milan Lucic slid a cross-ice pass to Jake Muzzin, who had pinched in from the blue-line. Muzzin, without an angle to shoot with once he had control of the puck, swung around Martin Jones and fired a puck into the crease from behind the goal-line that caromed off of Tomas Hertl’s skate and into the net.

San Jose was quick to tie things up, doing so on their first power play of the evening when Joe Pavelski beat Jonathan Quick.

In the second, Brent Burns fired a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead 6:50 minutes into the middle frame.

Just 40 seconds later, while the Kings worked on their second power play of the night, Jeff Carter had a pass attempt hit off pf a pair of Sharks players and find its way behind Martin Jones to tie the game at two.

With the score tied, and the Kings killing off their fourth penalty of the night, Trevor Lewis strung loose to bury a shorthanded goal with 2:42 left in the middle frame after forcing Brent Burns down to the ice, outwaiting the Sharks’ defenseman before beating Jones with a shot high to the blocker side.

Tomas Hertl tied the game 30 seconds later when he put home a loose rebound in front of the Kings’ net.

Entering the third period tied, San Jose wasted no time reclaiming the lead, Joe Pavelski stuffing home a wraparound goal 17 seconds into the final frame.

The Kings had numerous chances in the final moments of regulation with Jonathan Quick pulled for an extra attacker, but were unable to capitalize, dropping the first game of the series 4-3.

Milan Lucic (2A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Jake Muzzin in shots taken (4), Jake Muzzin in hits delivered (5), Jake Muzzin in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:19). Jonathan Quick made 19 saves in the loss.

The Kings will play the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the teams’ Western Conference Quarterfinal series Saturday night at STAPLES Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:30 PM PST.

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