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Sharks hand reeling Kings another loss

by Brian Compton
This seven-game homestand was supposed to be an opportunity for the Los Angeles Kings to make their move in the Western Conference.

Instead, Terry Murray's club is in a dogfight for a playoff spot.

Dan Boyle had a goal and an assist and Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves as the Kings fell to 0-3 on the homestand with a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Staples Center on Monday night.

Randy Jones scored the lone goal for Los Angeles, which came just 37 seconds after Dany Heatley gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead early in the second period via the power play. Erik Ersberg made 34 saves in the loss, which was the seventh in 10 games for the Kings.

Los Angeles (25-18-3) is just one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Detroit was idle on Monday, but will face the New York Islanders on Tuesday night on Long Island. The Kings will try again for their first win on this homestand on Thursday against Anaheim.

"Keep going," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "I liked the effort here tonight. I liked the scoring opportunities that were generated. We've got to get our scoring going. We've lost seven out of our last 10, and every one have been one-goal games. We've got to score."

Boyle needed less than 4 minutes to get the Sharks on the board, as his shot from the point found its way through a crowd and beat Ersberg between the legs for his ninth goal of the season.

''They've dominated us so far this year,'' Boyle said after helping the Sharks beat the Kings for the first time in regulation in five tries this season. ''The first two periods, I thought we were in their zone, and we got a lot of shots on net and a lot of traffic. They fought back, but it was a better effort on our part.''

Moments after failing to convert on a two-man advantage, San Jose grabbed a 2-0 lead when Heatley swatted his own rebound out of mid-air for his 26th goal of the season. Heatley connected with the puck at about Ersberg's mask level, just low enough to avoid a high-sticking call.

''We were a little more detailed,'' San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. ''It still wasn't easy. They came at us very hard in the third period, but I thought we were better along the boards. We won more battles.''

Jones responded for Los Angeles with his fifth goal of the season at 5:17, when he poked a rebound past Nabokov. It was his first tally since Dec. 3.

"I thought we played a pretty hard 60 minutes, but the end result wasn't what we wanted," Jones said. "We're going to have to get back to the basics and start to put up some 'W's.'"

The Kings failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage of their own in the third period, when they outshot the Sharks 18-7. Los Angeles finished 0-for-5 on the power play.

"If we play like this, the breaks are going to happen," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "We're going to score goals. I think it's just a matter of staying with this pace and compete level."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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