SAN JOSE, Calif. - Although the Kings' month-long rivalry series with the Sharks finally, mercifully ended Wednesday night, Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford wasn't looking forward to leaving the friendly confines of the Tank.
After all, the Kings have won more games in San Jose during November than the home team. Patrick O'Sullivan and Anze Kopitar followed up their regulation goals with shootout scores, and the Kings left San Jose with a 3-2 victory, beating the Sharks for the third time in 27 days.
Dustin Brown scored the winning shootout goal, and Jason LaBarbera stopped 35 shots for the Kings, who have won just two of their last eight games - both at their favourite road rink in the past five days.
"I don't think it's that difficult," Crawford said of the scheduling quirk that pitted the California clubs against each other four times this month. "It's familiarity, for one thing, and from a preparation standpoint, it's a little bit easier. It was a real gutsy effort, which is what you're going to need in playoff-like games."
The Kings' dominance over their better-pedigreed Pacific Division foes makes little sense to the rusty Sharks, who played just twice in the past 11 days because of a scheduling quirk. Playing without top scorers Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles still rallied from an early deficit for yet another narrow win.
"It was huge for us to be able to come in here again and get another win against one of the better teams in the conference," LaBarbera said. "It's pretty big, especially since we're missing our best player. The guys stepped up."
After Kopitar and O'Sullivan put Los Angeles ahead with second-period goals, Craig Rivet tied it during a third-period power play with his first goal of the season.
Jeremy Roenick and Joe Pavelski scored for San Jose in the shootout, but LaBarbera's stop on Milan Michalek in the second round was the difference. The Sharks are the NHL's worst shootout team since 2005, going 4-13.
Joe Thornton scored and Evgeni Nabokov made 30 saves for the Sharks, who fell out of first place through sheer inactivity over the last two weeks.
"I think we're really looking forward to (playing more)," Rivet said. "Sometimes being tired is better than being rested. We're built somewhat like machines that way. We're going to be looking forward to getting some of the cobwebs out and really getting on a roll here."
Frolov, who has four goals and 16 assists to match Cammalleri and Kopitar with a team-leading 20 points, didn't make the trip to San Jose while missing his third straight game with a groin injury. Cammalleri, who had a team-best 12 goals and eight assists while playing in each of the Kings' first 23 games, also was a last-minute scratch because of a groin injury.
"With Cammy out and (Frolov) not playing, (Kopitar) and myself took it upon ourselves to have the best game we could," O'Sullivan said. "Against a team like this - they're bigger than us - we have to compete at their level, and we definitely did that."
With just one point in the Sharks' last two games, coach Ron Wilson also shook up his lineup by sitting defenceman Kyle McLaren and right-wing Steve Bernier as healthy scratches.
"I want to see some more players upset with what our record is and what their numbers are," Wilson said. "They should be angry about it."
Thornton, held scoreless in the Sharks' previous two games, got his ninth goal early on when his wrist shot fooled LaBarbera, who was heavily screened by Michalek in front.
Los Angeles tied it with a short-handed goal midway through the second period on a blunder by the Sharks' stalwart goalie, who has played in every game this season. Kopitar alertly followed up Brown's breakaway by poking the puck past Nabokov, who lost sight of it.
Because of the injuries, 37-year-old defenceman Jon Klemm played his second straight game at forward on a line with Matt Moulson and Brian Willsie. Klemm was recalled from the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester on Sunday to replace Jaroslav Modry, who's in the Czech Republic with his ailing father.
Notes: Bernier had played in every game for San Jose this year, while McLaren had missed just one contest last month. D Rob Davison and C Curtis Brown got playing time in their places. ... Luckily for Sharks fans, the Kings won't be back in San Jose until April 1. ... Two former Sharks defencemen - Brad Stuart and Tom Preissing - assisted on O'Sullivan's goal.