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Marleau scores twice as Sharks crown Kings 5-1

by John Kreiser

Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks just keep on rolling.

Marleau regained the League lead in goals by scoring twice, and the Sharks took over the lead in the overall NHL standings with their third consecutive win, beating the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 on Tuesday night.

Marleau, whose career high in goals is the 38 he scored last season, now has 34 in San Jose's first 51 games. He broke a tie for the League lead with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who scored twice in the Penguins' 6-4 win over the Islanders, and has 23 in his last 30 games.

He's enjoying a career season after losing the captaincy during the summer.

"I don't notice a big difference in Patty," coach Todd McLellan said. "He has accepted it very well; in fact, he might even be more vocal in the locker room. The biggest change in Patty is that what he doesn't have to do is answer for 19 other guys, answer for the organization, answer for the coach.

"He still does when he's asked, but it's not on him. He hasn't changed one bit the way he plays, the way he approaches the game, the way he is around his teammates. We still treat him as a real important leader."

Ryane Clowe also had two goals in the Sharks' second win in as many nights and their second in eight days against the Kings at the Staples Center -- they won 2-1 last Monday. The victory gives the Sharks 74 points, two more than the Chicago Blackhawks, who lost 4-1 at Ottawa earlier in the evening. San Jose is 14-2-1 in its last 17 games and has scored 14 goals in back-to-back wins over Calgary and Los Angeles.

Evgeni Nabokov finished with 36 saves, including a key stop on Ryan Smyth's second period breakaway, as the Kings outshot San Jose 37-24, including 29-12 in the final two periods.

"Nabby stood his ground and made a lot of in-tight saves," McLellan said. "He didn't leave a lot of garbage."

The Kings fell to 2-4-0 on a seven-game homestand that ends Thursday against Buffalo. They retained the eighth and final playoff berth in the West because Detroit lost at Washington earlier on Tuesday.

Captain Dustin Brown said bad starts have been a big reason for the poor showing at home.

"I think, if you look at our homestand here, it's all about being ready to go, and we haven't been," he said.

Los Angeles lost the battle of special teams, going 0-for-5 on the power play and allowing San Jose to score on all three of its advantages.

"The power play can win you games, and the penalty kill can lose you games," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "That's what happened tonight."

San Jose got the jump on the Kings when Marleau scored just 5:18 into the game. With the Sharks on a power play and the Kings scrambling, Marleau took a centering pass from Joe Pavelski and beat Jonathan Quick.

It became 2-0 at 9:38, when Dan Boyle scored an unassisted goal. Boyle came out of the penalty box just as a backpass to Randy Jones bobbled over the Kings defenseman's stick at the San Jose Blue line. Boyle picked up the puck, skated into the Los Angeles zone and got to the inside of the right circle before zipping a high wrist shot to the far corner.

The Sharks turned another turnover into their third goal. Peter Harrold's pass went off the stick of Alexander Frolov and right to Jed Ortmeyer. He whipped a quick feed to Ryane Clowe, who beat a surprised Quick from 10 feet at 16:49.

"We weren't ready to go from the start, and they got a quick lead on us," Brown said. "They're the No. 1 team in this conference, so it's tough to come from behind right from the get-go. We need to be better prepared and ready to go right from the beginning."

It was the fourth consecutive period that the Sharks had scored three goals -- they did so in all three periods of Monday's 9-1 home win over Calgary. It was also the reverse of the Kings' last visit to San Jose on Jan. 4, when Los Angeles scored three times in the first period, dominated special-teams play and won 6-2 despite being outshot 47-20.

"This game was eerily like the one they beat us in San Jose," McLellan said. "They got off to a lead, scored three power-play goals. I guess we were flat. We turned the tables on them tonight."

The Kings got some like with a quick goal at the start of the second period. Smyth attempted a wraparound, and the puck slid through the crease. Wayne Simmonds crashed the net and, while falling down, knocked a backhand shot past Nabokov.

Nabokov preserved the two-goal lead with 6:30 left in the period when he stopped Smyth on a shorthanded breakaway. The Sharks turned that save into a 4-1 lead seconds later when Marleau came down the right side, barged through a couple of defenders as he cut to the middle and ripped a wrister from the left hash marks for a power-play goal at 13:48.

Clowe added his second of the night with 8:01 remaining, hammering home a rebound from the left circle for the Sharks' third power-play goal in as many chances.

Clowe said special teams and goaltending made the difference.

"We were sharp in both areas," he said. "That's what we talked about before the game -- we've seen L.A. enough this season that we knew what to expect. We made a few adjustments on the PK and the (power play). We knew if we executed in those areas, we'd have a good chance. We were very sharp in those areas and we dif a good job capitalizing on our opportunities."

Material from team media was used in this report

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