The Kings and Sharks played a level game for the majority of 60 minutes, but a late San Jose goal was the difference in a 3-2 LA defeat at STAPLES Center. With the win, the Sharks completed the sweep over the Kings on the weekend.
Despite an 18-5 shots on goal advantage for the Kings, the teams split the scoring in the first period, with Dustin Brown’s goal canceling out Kevin Lebanc’s game-opening tally. The San Jose goal came early, as Lebanc’s turnaround effort, with heavy traffic in front of goaltender Jonathan Quick, ricocheted off of a body in front and in, before Anze Kopitar hit Brown for a slam-dunk goal at the back post to knot the score at one.
After a back-and-forth second period, that included a few strong saves from Quick, the Sharks finally broke through, as Logan Couture fed Evander Kane, who scored from close range to make it a 2-1 game. With the Kings shorthanded late in the second, forward Trevor Moore leveled the game, as he won a puck amidst a crowd of Sharks, drove to the net and scored on the second effort for his second SHG of the season.
Both teams had their chances in the third period, but it was San Jose that picked up the lone goal. After stopping the puck behind his net, Quick’s outlet pass was picked off, and the Sharks quickly capitalized, with John Leonard feeding Dylan Gambrell for the go-ahead goal in front, which would serve as the game-winner.
The Kings held large advantages in shots on goal and shot attempts, but found themselves on the wrong side of a close final score. As McLellan says below, there were some similarities to the games recently played in San Jose, where there was a large disparity in the Kings’ favor in terms of shots, but the scoreboard favored the Sharks. And, at the end of the day, that’s the only number on the stat sheet that matters.
With the defeat, the Kings fell to 1-4-1 against San Jose this season, with the Sharks moving to within a point of the final playoff spot in the West Division, and the Kings remaining five points back, with just one game in hand.
Hear from forward Trevor Moore, defenseman Kale Clague and Head Coach Todd McLellan after today’s game.
On his focal points, playing his first NHL game since mid-February
The pace, obviously, is going to be a little bit quicker, guys are stronger. This team, going into tonight, we’ve put the emphasis on how strong they are in front of the net, so I wanted to make sure I was stronger in front of the net. Ultimately, it’s too bad we couldn’t get the win.
On where he looked to improve during his time in the AHL
I think I really wanted to go down there and work on my defensive game and get some confidence with the puck, that sort of thing. It’s good to be back here with these guys and I know that everyone believes, there’s a lot of faith in that room, keep pushing for the playoffs, a lot of games left here. Keep pushing in the right direction.
On his approach to tonight’s game
I got to watch the game last night, so I got to watch this team play and see what they like to do out there. I think it’s just preparing the same way. I know my strengths, and I know what I need to do on the ice, use my feet, move pucks out and try to chip in offensively and get shots on goal.
On if he felt this most recent call-up came at the right time, from a confidence perspective
Yeah, for sure. Slowly building my confidence, and I just want to get that confidence and find a groove here in this league. I’m excited, this is a huge opportunity with some guys out and I just want to try and make the most of it here.
On the frustration level after tonight’s loss
You used the word frustrating, I’m sure everybody feels like that in this moment, right now. It’s done, it’s over, we’ve got to move on. Lots of good things within the sixty minutes for us. We were aggressive, played hard, checked well, a lot more traffic in and around the net, made the goaltender work a lot more, shorthanded goal. There were a lot of positives in that game, but it’s only a moral victory, the two-point victories are what really counts at this time of the year, and we’ve got to find a way to get a few more.
On if the margin of error is small for the Kings at this stage
I could agree with you for sure, because that’s logic, but we’re just playing. We know where the standings are, we know where we are, we know who’s ahead and who’s behind, how many games are left, let’s not kid each other. To think that we’re coming in there and banking on everything as far as the next few games, it doesn’t work that way. We’ve had six-game winning streak and then we’ve gone the other way, it happens to teams. There’s lots of hockey left, and we just have to find ways here. It’s an old cliché, any time a coach is saying we have to find ways, it’s used to often, but it is what it is. We’ve got to go out and win a few games coming up.
On if he felt there were similarities between tonight’s games, and the recent games in San Jose
Yeah, there were. Certainly, the second game I think it was in San Jose, it felt like that one a little bit more. They checked well too again tonight and earned an opportunity at an open net that we had a couple of ourselves, but we didn’t quite put it in. There are some similarities, certainly, the result was similar, one-goal loss.
On some of the details he thought the Kings improved on tonight versus last night
I thought we were much more aggressive. We stopped their offensive zone play a lot quicker than we did last night. It doesn’t mean we weren’t in our end, it doesn’t mean we didn’t scramble around, but we were better in those areas I thought. Offensively, we played with a lot more authority along the boards, winning battles and creating more havoc in and around the net. It’s better in the defensive zone, better in the offensive zone, just a better game for us but the same result.
– Forward Trevor Moore scored his second shorthanded goal of the season, tied for second in the NHL, as he became one of 12 players in the league with multiple SHG so far this season.
– Over the last 13 games, the Kings have scored as many shorthanded goals as they have allowed power-play goals (1 each). At 86.4 percent, the Kings rank third in the NHL in PK%.
– With his 15th goal of the season tonight, forward Dustin Brown has now hit the 15-goal mark in four straight seasons, and 12 times in his NHL career.
– With the primary assist on Brown’s goal, Anze Kopitar tallied his 31st assist of the season, in 32 games, the fifth-most in the NHL.
– Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was the only Kings player with a +2 rating in tonight’s defeat.
– The Kings went scoreless on the power play tonight on three opportunities, extending their PPG drought to six games. The Kings are 0-for-20 in that span.
The Kings are scheduled for an off day tomorrow. The team is slated to return to the ice on Monday, for a morning skate in advance of that evening’s game versus Arizona.