LOS ANGELES -- Despite a last minute charge by the Los Angeles Kings (28-40-6), the San Jose Sharks (43-21-9) extended their road-winning streak to nine games behind a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Kings made things interesting with 4:47 remaining in regulation when Lubomir Visnovsky pulled Los Angeles within one after trailing throughout the game. A turnover in the San Jose end left the Sharks scrambling and Visnovsky capitalized with a slap shot from the point that beat Sharks goaltender Brian Boucher high on the glove side to make it 2-1.
Visnovsky’s goal was the first this season allowed by Boucher who was less than five minutes away from recording back-to-back shutouts in his only two appearances this season. Boucher’s last start was on March 1, a 2-0 shutout win in St. Louis against the Blues.
Kings forward Mike Cammalleri had a golden chance to force overtime with 13 seconds remaining when he split the Sharks defense and broke in on Boucher, but the veteran netminder challenged Cammalleri and forced the shot high and wide.
Boucher made 29 saves in the victory, improving to 2-0-0 on the season with a 0.50 goals-against average and a 0.981 save percentage.
The Sharks were in control for nearly the entire game, opening the first period with a pair of scoring chances in the Kings end before finally getting on the scoreboard.
Milan Michalek nearly beat Los Angeles netminder Dan Cloutier on a one-timer five minutes into the game, then moments later Joe Pavelski
rang a shot off the post, but Cloutier stood tall in net and kept the game scoreless.
Boucher again looked calm in net making key save after key save following a pair of defensive zone turnovers by the Sharks. Boucher’s best stop of the opening frame came with 6:35 to go in the period when Cammalleri and linemate Derek Armstrong broke in on a two-on-one. Cammalleri, bothered by an active stick from Kyle McLaren, moved the puck to Armstrong but Boucher was there for the save.
Following a Mike Grier penalty for delay of game (shooting the puck out of play), the Kings were whistled for back-to-back minors sending San Jose on the power play in the late stages of the first. And the Sharks wasted no time while on the man advantage, converting and taking the 1-0 lead with 2:51 left in the opening frame.
Captain Patrick Marleau
moved the puck down low to Joe Thornton
who set up behind the goal line. Thornton then moved the puck into the slot to Pavelski who directed the puck towards the net. While Cloutier crept out to the edge of his crease to challenge Pavelski, the puck deflected right back to Thornton who buried it in the wide-open net for the power play goal.
|Sharks forward Joe Pavelski tries to maneuver the puck around Kings players Anze Kopitar and Tom Preissing during the first period on Tuesday, March 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Francis Specker) |
Though the teams matched one another shot for shot with 13 each, the Sharks took the 1-0 lead into the locker room after one period of play.
Just over two minutes into the second frame, McLaren was whistled for boarding, sending the Kings on their second power play of the night. But the League’s No.1 road penalty killing team stalled the League’s No. 3 home power play team.
A pair of questionable goaltender inference calls, first on Torrey Mitchell
then on Devin Setoguchi with 12:05 and 8:16 to play respectively, sent Los Angeles back on the power play. The Kings threatened with a handful of quality scoring chances while on the power play, but Boucher made the first save in each instance and the Sharks defense cleared any rebounds keeping it a 1-0 margin.
With 3:37 to play in the second, a textbook give and go between Mitchell and Patrick Rissmiller pushed the San Jose lead to 2-0. Along with Grier, Rissmiller and Mitchell pushed the pace through the neutral zone and as the three linemates attacked the Los Angeles end on a 3-on-2.
Rissmiller moved the puck to Mitchell, then charged through is lane towards the net. Mitchell’s return feed hit Rissmiller on the tape as the forward fired a backhand shot. Cloutier made the initial save, but Rissmiller collected his own rebound on his forehand and picked the far side of the net with his shot for the 2-0 lead.
Rissmiller, who is arguably playing the best hockey of his four-year NHL career, set a new career-high in goals with eight.LINEUP
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Marleau – Pavelski – Setoguchi
Rissmiller – Mitchell – Grier
Shelley – Goc – Plihal
Murray – Campbell
Ehrhoff – Vlasic
McLaren – Rivet
Boucher – NabokovNEXT GAME
The Sharks return to HP Pavilion on Wednesday night to face the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild for the second half of their back-to-back games. The game is set for 7:30 PM (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area in HD, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJHARKS.com.