The Los Angeles Kings won a second consecutive game over their rivals. That is also not the only way San Jose Sharks losses are compiling…
Multiple San Jose Sharks losses in personnel have conspired to bring multiple losses on the ice. The Los Angeles Kings were beneficiaries both times: New Year’s Eve and again Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The Sharks have struggled offensively without forward Tomas Hertl for much of the 2016-17 NHL season. They spent most of the two games against the Kings in their own end thanks to blue-line injuries.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic went down in the final minute of Friday’s shutout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. San Jose did not have him in Los Angeles on the final day of 2016 and has since placed him on injured reserve.
However, the Sharks were also without David Schlemko Tuesday. Reserve blue-liner Dylan DeMelo skated with Mirco Mueller on the third pair. Brenden Dillon moved up to the second pair and Brent Burns played exactly 90 percent of their three power plays.
Thus, losses were accrued to two of the three pairs. Moreover, Mueller dressed for just his second NHL game in almost 13 months.
For his part, Mueller was very good in limited (12:15) action—he had one shot, attempt blocked, hit, takeaway and block. San Jose scored its only goal on his shift and he did not allow any scores.
Still, the personnel losses proved too much in another goalie duel. Martin Jones kept the Sharks in the game against his former team, but Peter Budaj made sure the Kings could still win.
The first score came on a simple reverse pass off the boards by Paul Martin. Kevin LaBanc gathered it in the neutral zone and fed Logan Couture in transition.
Couture continued his assault on Los Angeles goalies that began in the 2016 Pacific Division semifinals. He scored his fifth goal and 12th point in the nine games on an odd-man rush, using Joonas Donskoi as a decoy.
It appeared the Kings tied it almost three minutes later. Instead, the shot was disallowed because it went off the glove of Marian Gaborik. Thus the Sharks carried a lead into the third period—something they had only blown once this season.
However, Los Angeles took advantage of an early power play in the third to tie it. Jeff Carter tipped a Jake Muzzin shot-pass home for his Pacific Division-leading 21st goal and 16th in the last 21 games.
Carter also got the primary assist on the overtime goal on a great one-timer feed to Tanner Pearson. All San Jose could do afterward was look to their next game—hosting the Minnesota Wild Thursday.
The Kings held the advantage in the game and event summary statistics. They narrowly lost faceoffs 32-33, but the Sharks made up for it with nine more giveaways (22-13) but only three more takeaways (7-4).
As a result, Los Angeles had eight more shots (35-27) and 10 more attempts (65-55). The hosts also somehow managed three more hits (31-28). Even San Jose’s edge in blocks (18-14) is only proportionate to the additional shots and attempts faced.
The Sharks are still more than a game ahead of everyone in the Pacific Division. The Kings are three games back in the top Western Conference wild card spot.