The San Jose Sharks sluggish start was understandable after a game the night before. The Los Angeles Kings seized the opportunity Saturday, Dec. 31…
The San Jose Sharks sluggish first period was more than they could overcome Saturday, Dec. 31. Thus, 2016 ends with a disappointing loss on their bitter rival’s ice.
The Los Angeles Kings took advantage of their tired guests en route to a 2-0 lead entering the third period. They were off Friday following a nine-game road trip while the Pacific Division leaders played in San Jose.
The Sharks ended a four-game winning streak with the loss. They still lead the Pacific Division by 1.5 games over the Edmonton Oilers.
Los Angeles is in a virtual tie for the two wild cards with another Pacific Division team, the Calgary Flames. The Nashville Predators are half a game back with the Dallas Stars a full game back of a Stanley Cup playoff berth.
San Jose lost out on a chance to break a three-way tie for most road wins in 2016 with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. All three finished with 25—though the others did not also get five road wins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Sharks will host the Kings Tuesday in the next game for both teams. There will be plenty of edge to carry over into that affair.
San Jose Sharks Sluggish Start
Los Angeles registered 12 of the first 15 shots and 30 of the first 38 attempts. San Jose played evenly from there, but that first goal turned out to be the margin.
The Kings needed just 4:17 to score. Tanner Pearson got the puck from Alec Martinez, skated into the slot and wired it to the corner.
Martinez also earned an assist on the next Los Angeles score. A Brent Burns tripping penalty 32 seconds after intermission opened the door.
The man that beat Burns out for the 2016 Norris Trophy made him pay. Nic Dowd passed the puck to Drew Doughty for a shot that Dustin Brown screened Martin Jones from seeing.
A penalty at the end of the second period gave Burns a shot at redemption. He put a Joe Thornton feed through traffic and by Peter Budaj just 12 seconds after intermission. Patrick Marleau got an assist for the second game in a row.
Unfortunately, the Kings answered under four minutes later. Pearson found the Western Conference’s top goal scorer in transition, and Jeff Carter ripped a shot past Jones from the stick-side faceoff circle.
However, the Sharks kept fighting. The effort was enough to give struggling Brenden Dillon and Mikkel Boedker an assist on another Kevin LaBanc goal with just over six minutes left.
It was good to see but too little, too late. San Jose virtually tied the event summary possession stats (26-26 faceoffs, 11-9 giveaways, 1-1 takeaways). Los Angeles is the top-hitting team in the league but was out-dueled 27-24.
However, the Kings were able to ride those first 15 minutes of domination to an overall advantage in attack time. They had a 60-44 edge in attempts and outshot their guests 27-20. Even the 16-11 advantage the Sharks enjoyed in blocks was proportionate to the extra time defending.