SAN JOSE, Calif. - After blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of their previous game, the San Jose Sharks weren't feeling overly comfortable with another one.
This time they added to their lead instead of squandering it, getting a goal from Logan Couture and then hanging on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 Monday night for their seventh win in nine games.
"When you give up a lead in the third like we did the other day, it's always in the back of your mind," coach Todd McLellan said.
Couture put those fears to rest when he backhanded a rebound of a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic past Jonathan Quick to make it 4-1 early in the third.
After allowing a power-play goal to Anze Kopitar midway through the period, the Sharks killed off two late penalties to earn the win in the first meeting between these teams since San Jose eliminated Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
"We got that huge fourth goal which needs to be talked about a little bit more," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "If we don't get that goal, it makes for a pretty interesting finish. That fourth goal gave us that extra breathing room that we needed."
Patrick Marleau scored once and assisted on San Jose's other two second-period goals. Joe Thornton started the second-period outburst with his fourth goal and Boyle capped it by scoring his first of the season with San Jose on a two-man advantage as the Sharks picked up where they left off last post-season by once again beating the Kings.
This was the first meeting of the season between the two California rivals, who played a tense first-round series last spring won by San Jose in six games, including three overtime wins for the Sharks. San Jose didn't need extra time this game, doing more than enough damage in a dominant second period.
"It's always nice to play against those guys," Couture said. "There's a different feeling in the building. Our fans get into it. It's exciting to be a part of it, especially to come out with a win."
Jack Johnson scored on a two-man advantage to give the Kings a 1-0 lead but Quick was unable to make that hold up and Los Angeles lost its fifth straight game.
"We're all confident here," Quick said. "We know we're not putting it to them the full 60 minutes, at least not through this little stretch. We're outplaying teams but we can't put them away. We have to dig down a little deeper and figure a way to get out of this."
The Kings struck first just seconds into a two-man advantage. Torrey Mitchell was called for hooking with Colin White already in the box, giving Los Angeles 15 seconds with a 5-on-3 edge. The Kings didn't even need that long to score. Mike Richards beat Michal Handzus on the faceoff and the puck went to Johnson, who beat Antti Niemi with a blast from the point.
But the Sharks picked up their play after that and scored three times during a span of less than six minutes. Thornton started it when he skated out from behind the net, did a reverse pivot and sneaked a backhand past Quick for the equalizer.
Less than a minute later, Boyle carried the puck into the offensive zone and waited for a second before feeding a driving Marleau in front of the net for a perfectly executed tip play.
The Sharks then capitalized on their own two-man advantage to take a two-goal lead late in the second. Willie Mitchell got sent off for cross checking Couture with Matt Greene already in the box. Joe Pavelski lost control of the puck in front of the net but it went straight to Boyle, who beat Quick with a blast from the slot to make it 3-1.
"It's hard to paint the perfect picture, but I thought we recovered when we were pushed," McLellan said. "We found ways to get back in the game when we were behind, everyone got a chance to contribute. It was a complete game, or as close as we've come to one."
The teams were scoreless after the first period despite two prime chances for Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner. After the Sharks were unable to score on a scramble in front of the net, Penner got free on a breakaway but was turned aside by Niemi. Then in the final minute of the period, Niemi made a nifty glove save on a slap shot by Penner from the slot for the best of his 29 saves.
"We consider ourselves an upper-echelon team but right now we're not playing like it," Greene said.
Notes: Quick gave up three goals in a period for the first time since the third period of Game 4 of last season's playoff series against the Sharks. ... Thornton's goal was his 1,013th career point, tying his boyhood hero, Pat LaFontaine, for 74th place all-time. He added an assist to move into a tie for 73rd place with Calgary's Jarome Iginla.