Fresh off their 6-3 victory against Columbus on Thursday, the San Jose Sharks played host to the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at HP Pavilion. Thanks to a two goal effort from Scott Thornton, the Sharks defeated their Division rivals by the final score of 3-2.
After sitting the last two games, Evgeni Nabokov was back in net for the Sharks, while Mathieu Garon manned the net for the Kings.
Not even one minute into the game, the Nils Ekman, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo line caused havoc for the Los Angeles blueliners. Looking to keep up their amazing point production from the last two games, the top line skaters stole the puck coming out of Los Angeles’ end and Ekman and Cheechoo skated down the ice on a two-on-one. Cheechoo’s attempt was swallowed up by Garon however.
San Jose went on their first power play of the night just over seven minutes into the game when Tom Kostopoulos was sent to the box for tripping. With 38 seconds left on the advantage, San Jose was called for having too many men on the ice. Only 20 seconds later Mark Smith was whistled for hooking. San Jose would have to kill off 1:19 of a five-on-three play.
Lubomir Visnovsky nearly gave the Kings the lead when he ripped a slap shot from the point, but his shot rang off the post. 20 seconds later though, it would be Visnovsky from the same exact spot on the ice that would fire a slapshot, this time finding the back of the net giving Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.
Just 30 seconds later Sean Avery extended Los Angeles’ lead when he batted a puck in that was originally shot by Visnovsky. Nabokov turned away Visnovsky’s shot, but the netminder batted the puck in the air directly in front of the net. Avery swung down on the puck, slipping it past Nabokov and increasing the Kings lead to 2-0.
At 4:49 Scott Thornton trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to one when a scramble in front of the net saw shots by Goc and McCauley turned away by Garon. With the Los Angeles netminder sprawled on the ice, Thornton paused just long enough to give him time to roof the puck past Garon. The score was now 2-1 in favor of the Kings.
San Jose would find themselves having to fight off another Kings advantage when Grant Stevenson tripped Avery. The Sharks would escape the penalty with no harm done.
The first period came to a close with the Kings maintaining the 2-1 lead.
Los Angeles received an early power play in the second, but the hard work of Mark Smith and Alyn McCauley in the Kings end easily eliminated the two minutes.
The second period was a little slower than the first as just six shots were registered in the period’s first 10 minutes. On the period’s seventh shot, Dimitrakos nearly beat Garon, but a penalty was called and Team Teal received their second power play of the game. And San Jose would make them pay immediately.
Joe Thornton fed Cheechoo in the slot and he carried the puck behind the net. With Ekman parked out front, Marleau found a spot to the right of Garon and when Cheechoo’s pass came, Marleau one-timed it, using an Ekman screen, to tie the game at two.
Quickly after the tally, Grant Stevenson was whistled for high-sticking and the Kings took to the advantage. On the kill, Josh Langfeld blocked a shot that bounced out of the zone, but the puck hit the inside of his knee and he had to be assisted off the ice. His teammates killed of the remainder of the penalty and even strength play resumed.
San Jose’s power play went to work immediate following the Kings and despite the efforts of Marleau and Stevenson on separate shifts, the contest remained tied.
That would not last long as with 4:21 left in the second, Scott Thornton gave San Jose their first lead. After Mark Smith won a faceoff back to Gorges. The young defender, who would earn his first NHL assist on the play, found Niko Dimitrakos who fed a wide-open Scott Thornton just inside the blueline. What seemed like a simple, unscreened slapshot was perfectly placed to the upper left corner of Garon.
San Jose entered the second stanza down a goal, but would enter the third with a 3-2 lead.
The defenses settled in for the first ten minutes of the third, however, a Kostopoulos tripping penalty provided San Jose an opportunity to add to the lead midway through the stanza. The Sharks couldn’t hold the zone much during the two minutes and could not pad the lead.
As the clock wound down under the five minute mark, San Jose was buzzing the net. First it was Marleau, and then Ekman and Cheechoo, but Garon held strong, keeping his team within striking distance.
With three minutes to go, McLaren pasted Kostopoulos just inside the blueline and on the other end, San Jose just missed on a two-on-one. They did not score, but they did have a power play for two minutes of the final 2:47 of action. San Jose couldn't capitalize on their advantage however, despite firing several shots on goal.
With 38 seconds left, Los Angeles called time out and drew up a play. Garon left the net in favor of an extra attacker. Los Angeles couldn't muster any shots on goal during the final seconds of play, and the Sharks skated off with the 3-2 victory.
IN THE HOUSE
To help out with the annual Police/Fire Department Fundraiser, several former Sharks took to the ice in a two-day tournament. Joining the local fire fighters and police officers on the ice were Darren Turcotte, Gaetan Duschesne, Dave Maley, Jamie Baker, Tom Pederson and Neil Wilkinson, along with Drew Remenda.
San Jose flies to Boston on Sunday for a Tuesday showdown with the Bruins. The contest is Joe Thornton’s first game back to Beantown since being acquired by the Sharks and will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com at 4 p.m.