The San Jose Sharks battled with the Los Angeles Kings for a second consecutive contest, but this time they came up on the short side in the 4-2 loss. It marked the first time in 20 contests that San Jose had not earned at least one point in a game, a stretch that they had gone 18-0-2 during. Joe Thornton
and Joe Pavelski
scored for San Jose, but it would not be enough.
Just prior to game time, the Sharks learned that Detroit had wrapped up the top spot in the Western Conference, locking San Jose into the second overall seed for next week’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson decided to give Evgeni Nabokov the start and rested several regulars who are day-to-day with bumps and bruises or who simply deserved a night off. They included Christian Ehrhoff (lower body), Tomas Plihal, Marcel Goc, Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo, Craig Rivet and Sandis Ozolinsh.
Tom Cavanagh made his NHL debut and, to help get the butterflies out, Wilson put the rookie on the opening line with Joe Thornton
and Jeremy Roenick. Thornton was looking for the rookie on that first shift and set him up for two shots early. However, as he looked to center the crashing Roenick and Cavanagh with the puck still in the zone, Thornton ended up scoring the opening tally just 36 seconds in.
The Kings were quickly put on the power play and looked to even the game when Patrick O’Sullivan was alone with the puck on the side of the net. Before the puck could cross the line, Nabokov moved over to rob the Kings forward. Nabokov also had to face Anze Kopitar coming in alone at even strength, but the Vezina candidate covered the angle and the opportunity went away harmlessly.
Los Angeles actually outshot Team Teal 13-9 in the opening stanza, but Thornton’s goal was the difference after 20 minutes.
Less than two minutes into the second, Los Angeles would pull even when Mike Cammalleri forced a turnover when the Sharks had clear possession and Brian Willsie popped in the loose puck from the slot. Nabokov got a piece of it, but the shot slowly moved across the line.
Midway through the contest Los Angeles took their first lead. Alexander Frolov carried the puck behind the net and fed Raitis Ivanans down low. Ivanans, who scored in San Jose two nights ago, knocked in the go-ahead tally.
With less than four minutes left in the second, former Shark Scott Thornton redirected a centering pass in the slot, but Nabokov read the play and did not let the puck move far off Scott Thornton’s stick.
The Sharks had pulled ahead in shots, but were trailing 2-1 after two periods.
It did not take long for San Jose to pull even in the third when Los Angeles committed their first minor penalty of the game. Just 3:03 into the final period, Patrick Marleau
set up behind near the goal line and delivered a pass to Joe Pavelski
in the high slot. “Little Joe” gathered the puck and sent it inside the left goal post.
As the clock wound down under the six minute mark, the home club took the lead again. When a Dustin Brown pass across the slot hit Curtis Brown’s skate, the puck came back to the slot, right in front of Kopitar. The speedy Kings player pushed the shot passed Nabokov before he could recover from the odd bounce.
With 1:24 to go in the third, Nabokov left for the extra attacker and right away Milan Michalek had a shot in front before Ron Wilson used his timeout. As the clock wound down, Kopitar though was able to find the empty net tally to finish off the 4-2 Kings victory.
The Sharks will visit Dallas Sunday at Noon on a contest that will be on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.