San Jose Sharks Conquer Kings, Clinch Playoff Berth

Mar 28, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) celebrates with center Joe Thornton (19) after scoring against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) celebrates with center Joe Thornton (19) after scoring against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Sharks fought off an early 1-0 deficit to handily beat the Kings, snapping a three-game losing skid.

It wasn’t as easy as the score may have shown, but the San Jose Sharks finally got it done against the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-2, beating L.A. for the third time this season, clinching a playoff berth in the process.

A bad delay of game penalty by Justin Braun, led to a Kings power-play goal, and a failed breakaway by Joe Pavelski didn’t seem to be good omens for a Sharks squad who were desperate for a win, but things quickly turned around for team teal from there on out.

A nice setup by Melker Karlsson, who was extremely active all night in one of his best games of the season, led to Braun’s third goal of the campaign just a few minutes after the Kings took the lead as this one was knotted up after one period of play. San Jose made a late push in the first as it took them some time to settle into this contest.

Continuing that pressure on the Kings blue line, the Sharks finally broke through and took the lead at the 7:55 mark on a Brent Burns snap-shot that just barely deflected off Pavelski into the back of the net. Logan Couture failed to add another later in the period on a breakaway, which was denied by Quick.

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Martin Jones found much success halting shots in the second period, stopping 14 of 15 shots in those 20 minutes. However, Vincent Lecavalier’s second of the night was one Jones probably should have saved, but we’ll give him a pass for stopping a total of 30 of 32 that came his way.

The Sharks would capitalize on another Kings penalty earlier in the final period, this time on a good play by Pavelski leading to a Joe Thornton rebound goal, his 18th of the season. Burns also notched an assist on the goal, giving him 43 helpers on the season with a total of 69 points. San Jose would add an insurance goal with just over three minutes remaining on a phenomenal behind the back pass from Tommy Wingels to Karlsson’s skate, deflecting into the net with the replay confirming the goal upon review. Braun added a long range empty-netter with 13 seconds remaining which earned him his first two-goal game of his career.

Braun surely redeemed himself well following his delay of game penalty to kick off the contest. In addition to the two goals, Braun saved the potential game-tying goal in the middle of the third period with a great play on the puck on a Drew Doughty slap-shot that squeaked through Jones and was heading for the back of the net.

For the silver, black and white, Quick allowed four goals, but stopped two breakaways and had a save of the year nominee with his paddle. Almost everyone in attendance, including Couture himself celebrated too early, thinking team teal had stolen a goal with two seconds left in the period, but Quick’s unbelievable reflexes and touch of luck put the fans back in their seats. It wasn’t the greatest overall performance from Quick, but his defense didn’t help much and the Sharks probably could have had six or seven on the board tonight if it wasn’t for the Kings netminder.

The task of moving into a top two spot in the Pacific Division will still be nearly impossible for the Sharks, but this was a big win against a rival and potential playoff foe.

The Sharks will complete the back-to-back tonight on the road against a reeling Vancouver Canucks bunch who have lost eight straight. San Jose leads the season series 2-1.

Notes

-The Sharks remained without Matt Nieto (hand) and Matt Tennyson (concussion) for this one. The team hopes to have Tennyson back for the playoffs, but Nieto’s status is more up-in-the-air and longer term.

-Burns is up to 69 points on the year, good for 10th in the league and second-best among defensemen (Erik Karlsson, 76 points).

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-Pavelski and Thornton both have 73 points on the campaign, T-5th in the NHL. Pavelski is T-4th in goals (36), while Thornton is T-2nd in assists (55).

Joonas Donskoi was sharp in his return to the ice following a one-game absence. Despite his minus-one rating and pointless contest, he didn’t seem to be hampered.

-San Jose dominated at the circle, winning 61 percent of the faceoffs, while also being very active defensively, blocking 28 shots.