The Los Angeles Kings beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on the last night of 2016. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles and was the first loss in four games for San Jose.
Having played their last nine games away from Staples Center, this was the first home game in three weeks for the Kings. During the trip, they averaged two goals a game and went 0-2-1 to finish the nine-game span. Playing in front of their hometown crowd breathed life into Los Angeles, who hadn’t scored more than two goals in a game in their last three games.
Tanner Pearson commented on winning after a long road trip, via LA Kings Insider, “It is nice to be home and you know, teams have to come in here and they know that they’re coming in here. I think everyone in the league takes pride of their home ice and we’ve got to be there, too.”
This was the second game in as many nights for San Jose. Martin Jones had the night off last night when the Sharks faced the Flyers at home. It was a deserved night of rest for Jones who had been between the pipes the previous seven games. Prior to this matchup, Jones had posted a 5-1-1 record and a 2.14 goals against average against his former team, but the Kings got the best of him in their latest meeting, scoring three goals on 27 shots.
This was the first game of a home-and-home series between the two California rivals, the two will meet again Jan. 3 in San Jose for the second half of the series.
It may have been being on their home ice for the first time in three weeks or it may have been the Kings ready to turn their luck around, whatever the reason was, they came out of the gates flying. Los Angeles controlled much of the play to start the game. Under a minute into the game, Anze Kopitar had a big chance to pot an early goal but Brent Burns deflected his shot and kept the scored tied at zero.
Tanner Pearson, on the other hand, was able to find the back of the net just three minutes later. He picked up a loose puck at the top of the right circle and wristed a shot just over the shoulder of Jones and under the crossbar to grab a 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.
At the ten minute mark of the period, the Kings held a 10-3 shot advantage and held the Sharks to very little time in the offensive zone.
In the second half of the period, the two teams traded off power play opportunities but neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Kings ended the period with a 1-0 advantage on the scoreboard and outshot the Sharks 13-6 to open the game.
The Sharks didn’t start out the game’s middle frame on the right foot. Just 32 seconds into the period, Burns — the team’s top defenseman — got his stick tangled in the feet of Anze Kopitar.
On the ensuing power play, Drew Doughty got the puck at the point and fired a shot from the right point and just inside the left post to extend the Kings’ lead to two goals. Alec Martinez assisted on Doughty’s goal and had a helping hand on both of the first two goals.
At the halfway point of the period, and the game, the Kings had held the Sharks to just one shot in the period and held a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal.
The Sharks controlled the majority of the second half of the middle frame. San Jose found themselves in the Kings’ zone for prolonged periods of time. Their play led to Kopitar taking a holding penalty with 1:25 remaining in the period.
Peter Budaj held his ground during the power play, and the first two periods for that matter, and skated off the ice after 40 minutes having turned away all 11 of San Jose’s shots.
During the carry-over penalty time, the Sharks capitalized. Burns fired a shot from the point and the puck found its way through a Joe Pavelski screen and beat Budaj. The goal came just 12 seconds into the final period. San Jose did feed off of the momentum from the quick goal until Jeff Carter intervened.
Just under four minutes later, Carter picked up a breakout pass and skated into San Jose’s zone. In stride, Carter released a wrist shot that beat Jones on his glove side. It was Carter’s team-leading 20th goal of the season and pushed the Los Angeles’ lead back to two with just under 16 minutes to play.
After exchanging power play opportunities it was San Jose who struck next. After a shot from the point got blocked to the right of Budaj, Kevin Labanc picked up the puck and fired it over Budaj’s glove. Budaj was trying to recover from the blocked shot but Labanc was able to get it past the goaltender before he could recover.
San Jose put plenty of pressure on the Kings over the course of the last five minutes but Budaj was able to keep Los Angeles on the right side of a 3-2 score.
LAK – Tanner Pearson (9) assisted by Alec Martinez (14)
LAK – Drew Doughty (6) assisted by Alec Martinez (15)
SJS – Brent Burns (15) assisted by Joe Thornton (23) and Patick Marleau (6)
LAK – Jeff Carter (20) assisted by Tanner Pearson (10) and Jake Muzzin (5)
SJS – Kevin Labanc (7) assisted by Mikell Boedker (6) and Brenden Dillon (3)
THW Three Stars
First: Tanner Pearson, 1 goal and 1 assist
Second: Jeff Carter, 1 goal
Third: Brent Burns, 1 goal
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:00 p.m. PST on Tuesday, Jan. 3
Broadcast channels: NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 12 – San Jose 2 – Los Angeles 1
Nov. 30 – San Jose 4 – Los Angeles 1
Dec. 31 – Los Angeles 3 – San Jose 2