We now go back to your regularly scheduled Pacific Division programming.
The Kings took a sharp turn Sunday, from an open-ended game against their previous opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, to tight checking, low scoring and good goaltending with their divisional rival San Jose Sharks.
The two best teams in the NHL in goals allowed grinded through much of the night and leaned on goalies Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones until a fateful mistake was committed. That turned out to be the Kings, who turned the puck over and paid for it in a 2-1 loss in front of 18,230 at Staples Center.
Barclay Goodrow’s shot hit off Joel Ward’s skate and into the net with more than seven minutes remaining as the Kings lost two straight games for the first time this season. It was an odd bounce, but the Kings had trouble getting through the neutral zone for the final two-thirds of the game and it cost them on the play. Kings coach John Stevens has been concerned about puck management lately, and it’s clearly bit them.
“It was not very good,” Stevens said. “I think there’s got to be recognition when there’s a chance to make plays and when they’re initiating the attack, and there’s got to be recognition when they’ve got good gaps … I think as a group, up and down our lineup, it can be a lot better.”
Quick lost the shutout five minutes, 42 seconds into the third period when Melker Karlsson tapped in a loose puck. The Kings intercepted it in their zone but couldn’t clear it, and Quick had no chance on the shot.
Quick made 15 saves in a second period full of stoppages in which the Kings struggled to break out while San Jose maintained possession. Quick made an outstretched save of Brenden Dillon. He got his right pad over to deny Chris Tierney on a wraparound try, and later got his left pad out to stop Karlsson. Those 15 saves included a shot off Quick’s mask.
It might not have been the most representative offense from the Sharks. Defenseman Brent Burns is scoreless and San Jose is last in the league in five-on-five scoring. But the Sharks kept it close with Jones. He made a key pad stop on Tyler Toffoli in the first period and slid over to deny Toffoli again in the second period. Tanner Pearson broke in on Jones early in the third but Jones stopped his attempt short of the goal line.
It was a tougher change of pace given San Jose’s defensive style that takes away center ice. The Kings did not register a shot on goal until more than seven minutes into the game, then got their first goal on the power play, from Dustin Brown.
“They always flood one side of the ice,” Anze Kopitar said. “Try and limit you to one side. We were trying to, I guess, change the point of the attack and just create some stuff, but they were pretty good tonight.”