San Jose hooked up with the Los Angeles Kings for their next to last preseason battle Friday night at HP Pavilion. Evgeni Nabokov started in net opposite Jason LaBarbera.
Los Angeles jumped out to the early lead when Alexander Frolov and Anze Kopitar hooked up on a two-on-one rush with Frolov finishing off the rush. Nabokov made a strong play to stop Kopitar alone to the right site, but the puck slid through the crease and Frolov tapped it in.
The guest Kings would make it 2-0 when Frolov and Kopitar connected again, this time with Kopitar finishing the play. The Kings would make it 3-0 on a Rob Blake tally, but the Sharks would respond.
Steve Bernier carried the puck behind LaBarbera and centered Patrick Marleau
out front. The Captain snapped it behind the Kings netminder before he could notice it on Marleau’s stick blade.
San Jose almost made it a one-goal deficit, but LaBarbera robbed Mike Grier on a two-on-one near the end of the first stanza.
The beginning of the second period was almost a carbon copy of the first period, opening with Kings forward Sean Avery taking a penalty on the first shift. But unlike the first period, the Sharks would take a penalty only 45 seconds into the power play.
The teams returned to 5-on-5 and played three minutes before the Kings struck again. This time, Kings forward Jeff Cowan took a feed from linemate Craig Conroy and beat Nabokov from the middle of the circle on Nabokov’s glove side, giving the Kings their second three-goal lead of the game.
Trailing 4-1, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson shuffled his lines, pairing up Scott Parker and Grant Stevenson in between Curtis Brown. After a feverish forecheck and a few big hits, the Sharks drew another penalty. The Kings killed the ensuing power play, as the Sharks two best chances were on shots from the point that were deflected wide of the net.
As the Sharks continued to pressure the Kings, trying to cut into the three-goal deficit, Team Teal would once again draw a penalty on Avery. This time Avery was sent off for hooking, giving the Sharks the man advantage. However, it was the Kings penalty kill who again was up to the challenge as they contained the Sharks power play, forcing them to the perimeter and giving up few chances.
With about three minutes to play in the second, the Sharks were poised to go back on the power play as Dustin Brown made unnecessary contact with Nabokov in front of the Sharks net. But referees Dennis LaRue and Dan O’Rourke felt Nabokov embellished the contact and assessed the Sharks netminder an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for diving, much to the displeasure of the Sharks bench.
As the period winded down, Marleau and Steve Bernier each would get a scoring chance but LaBarbera shut the door on the Sharks with a pair of precise saves, preserving the Kings three-goal lead headed into the third.
The final stanza started off as the previous ended for the Sharks as Los Angeles quickly made it 5-1. This time it was Kings pest Sean Avery who scored. Nabokov made an initial save, but Avery was left unattended and jammed home the rebound.
Though trailing 5-1, the Sharks continued skating hard through the neutral zone, again drawing a Kings penalty. While on the power play, the Sharks would again draw a penalty, this time as Mark Bell was hooked heading through the offensive zone earning the Sharks a 5-on-3 advantage.
With five minutes remaining, Bernier would convert on the Sharks power play, cutting into the Kings four goal lead. It was Bernier's fourth goal of the preseason, adding to the hat trick he had in Calgary earlier in the week.
Despite the push by the Sharks towards the end of the third, Team Teal ran out of steam and time, falling to the intrastate rivals, 5-2.
Bell, Goc, Marleau, Nieminen, Smith, Grier, Bernier, Parker, Rissmiller, Brown, Stevenson.
Murray, McLaren, Davison, Gorges, Ehrhoff, Hannan, Vlasic.
The Kings started former Sharks winger Scott Thornton, who received a nice return “home” welcome from the crowd.
The Sharks will close out their preseason tomorrow night when they host the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion. The start time is 7:30 p.m. and the game can be heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion box office and at www.ticketmaster.com.