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Kings top Sharks 4-3 in shootout

by Curtis Zupke /
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings earned two points the hard way, thanks to some heroics by their captain.

Dustin Brown scored twice in regulation and beat Antti Niemi in the fifth round of the shootout to lift the Kings to a 4-3 victory against the San Jose Sharks in front of a raucous crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center on Thursday night.

The Kings have won back-to-back shootouts and moved into fifth place in the Western Division with 90 points. The Sharks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped, pulled even with Detroit for second in the West with 95 points, though the Wings own the tiebreaker because they've played one fewer game.

The Kings thought they had the game won in regulation after Brown scored on a power play with 1:42 remaining with San Jose captain Joe Thornton serving an interference penalty.

But with time running out and Niemi on the bench for an extra attacker, San Jose's Ryane Clowe fed a loose puck across the crease to Patrick Marleau, who was alone at the right post and fired the puck into an open net with 4.1 seconds, stunning the sellout crowd.

"It was a roller-coaster there the last four minutes," Brown said. "We're up, we're holding the lead. We blow it, then get it back and blow it again. We had some good chances in overtime and then we take it to a shootout."

Kings coach Terry Murray wasn't surprised at having to work a little extra for two points.

"I'm not disappointed and I'm not surprised that stuff like that happens," he said. "I'm watching games in this League right now and it is incredible what is happening late in games, overtimes, shootouts. We would certainly love to have it shut down, when you have a faceoff at the offensive blue line, offside dot with 11 seconds left. You'd like to feel that you can do that every time, but things do happen.

"They've got some very good players and they came, they just rushed us with five, six guys and got the bounce that they needed."

Marleau had tied the game 2-2 with 3:32 to go when he fired a wrist shot from just inside the left circle that dipped under Jonathan Quick's glove.

"They sneak a point out of it, and I think we outplayed them for a majority of the game and we played a solid game as a team," Quick said. "At the end of the day, we got two points and you can't complain about that."

San Jose outshot the Kings 13-7 in the third period, but coach Todd McLellan was disappointed in his team's performance through the first 40 minutes.

"The first 40 minutes we had no gas, no juice, not a lot of energy or emotion in the game," McLellan said. "I thought we had anywhere from six to 10 passengers, which was unfair to the guys that actually did show up and play. But in the third, they got it going."

Despite going home without a win, San Jose couldn't complain too much about coming out with a point after playing a rested opponent in the second half of a back-to-back -- the Sharks beat Calgary 5-3 at home on Wednesday.

"I thought we took probably too many penalties, but we showed a lot of resiliency, not only coming back from the 3-2 but the 2-1 and earning that point," forward Dany Heatley said.

The Kings ended a 0-for-12 drought on the power play when Willie Mitchell converted on a slap shot from above the circles midway through the second period to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. Ryan Smyth had missed in front of the net and stayed there to screen Niemi as Mitchell collected the rebound and scored at 9:07.

San Jose could have been in a deeper hole because Clowe took roughing and holding penalties in a 3:09 span late in the second period. But the Sharks killed both power plays and emerged from the period relatively unscathed despite being outshot 14-4.

Mitchell's goal came just 1:49 after Brown got the puck from Alexei Ponikarovsky and beat Niemi with a quick backhander to tie the game at 1-1.

A key matchup figured to be San Jose's third-ranked power play unit against the Kings' top-rated penalty-killing unit. The first round went to the Sharks, who got a power play when Jarret Stoll was called for slashing at 19:33 of the first period. San Jose snapped the Kings' streak of 35 straight kills just 35 seconds into the second period when Joe Pavelski deftly deflected Marleau's shot from the left side past Quick for a 1-0 lead.

L.A. had not allowed a power-play goal since Feb. 28, a stretch of 10 games.

The Kings were playing their first game without top-line winger Justin Williams, who suffered a dislocated shoulder Monday against Calgary. Oscar Moller took his place and had an assist on Mitchell's goal.

San Jose defenseman Niclas Wallin returned to the lineup after a three-game absence.

The Kings played before their 31st sellout of the season, breaking the club single-season record at Staples Center set in 2003-04.

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