LOS ANGELES -- Martin Jones can't possibly be asked to do much more for the Los Angeles Kings, right?
That was the question going into a big Pacific Division game Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks, one in which Jones continued the remarkable start to his NHL career in a 4-1 Kings win at Staples Center.
Jones improved to 7-0-0 and recorded his first NHL point with an assist in the second period. He made 31 saves and was 2:10 away from his fourth career shutout when Patrick Marleau snapped his home shutout streak at 177:06.
Jones has allowed six goals in seven NHL games. He has downplayed his success as consistently as he's deflected shots, and his postgame comments didn't veer from script.
"It's fun, but again I've said it 100 times here: It's a start," said Jones, who is one win shy of the NHL record for wins to start an NHL career, set by Bob Froese (8-0-0) with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982-83.
"I just want to make sure we close out these last two games [on the home stand] and keep working keep doing the things that have made me successful," he added.
San Jose lost rookie center Tomas Hertl to an apparent lower-body injury when he took a knee-on-knee hit from Dustin Brown late in the first period and immediately went to the dressing room. Brown was given a five-minute kneeing penalty and a game misconduct.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan did not know Hertl's status.
"I haven't gone in there to see the trainers yet or talk to the doctors," he said. "Obviously he didn't return, so it's not a good thing. But other than that, I can't give you any [more information]."
Hertl leads all rookies with 15 goals and 25 points in 35 games, and the Sharks could have used his scoring touch.
In what typically is a tightly contested and intense series, San Jose didn't play with the puck much and blew two chances at an open net with three minutes left in the second period when the puck hopped over Joe Pavelski's stick and Tommy Wingels' wraparound was stopped on the goal line by Jones.
"There were a few plays early in the game," Pavelski said. "We should have been better on the power play early on. We had chances to get right back in the game, and we never took advantage. It comes really hot off the end wall; it just kind of spins off the blade and you can't get it and Tommy makes a good try. That goalie's been playing good. Obviously he makes those [plays] and finds the puck."
Jones' impressive numbers underscore that the Kings are playing perhaps their best puck possession hockey since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They're also squeezing out enough goals to support their strong defense.
Tyler Toffoli is a new wrinkle, though, and he gave L.A. a 2-0 lead at 11:15 of the second with an impressive sniper shot. Slava Voynov sent a 114-foot outlet pass from the goal line that Toffoli collected at the Sharks blue line before sending a wrist shot from the right side that beat Antti Niemi on the far side.
Toffoli assisted on L.A.'s first goal, a product of cycle work behind the San Jose net. Toffoli's backhand centering attempt went through the slot and off the boards to Alec Martinez, whose knuckling shot beat Niemi inside the left post at 5:26 of the first period. The shot might have deflected off a San Jose player, but McLellan acknowledged that it wasn't Niemi's best game.
"I think Nemo is like some others on our team; some go-to guys that have to step up and bring their 'A' game a little bit more," McLellan said. "He knows it. We know that. His teammates know it. But we're talking about one individual that wears the pads. There's some others than didn't have a very good night."
Jeff Carter effectively put the game away with a tap-in goal 36 seconds into the third period for a 3-0 lead. San Jose turned it over trying to break out, and Dwight King bulled past Justin Braun before toe-dragging a pass over to Carter. King also banged in a loose puck in traffic for a 4-0 lead at 6:16.
But an important sequence came on L.A.'s penalty kill for Brown's kneeing infraction, spread over the first and second periods.
"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."
Including the playoffs, the Kings have won eight straight and are 10-0-1 at home against San Jose in the past 11 games at Staples Center.
Marleau played in his 1,200th NHL game and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played in his 400th game.