Ineptitude Contagious as Kings Lose

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One team didn't have a shot on goal for the first 12:29 of the second period.

The other team then tried to duplicate that in the third period but managed a non-threatening shot on goal at the nine-minute mark.

Ah, King and San Jose Shark hockey at its best. The working definition of mediocrity.

So what happens when inept meets really inept?

After the Kings' shoddy performance in a 4-3 loss to the Sharks on Friday night at San Jose Arena, it's getting difficult to tell the difference between the two. In what has been increasingly inevitable, the Kings (13-14-7) fell below .500 for the first time this season.

One constant has been a failure to perform on the road. The Kings lost for the seventh consecutive time on the road as their last victory away from the Forum was more than a month ago, on Nov. 13 at Anaheim.

Certainly, it can't be entirely surprising when the only solution to significant problems is to do nothing, other than make an occasional wave in the direction of Phoenix.

As for San Jose, the Sharks are barely a shadow of what they've been in previous seasons. This was only their eighth victory of the season in 35 games and the first time they managed to string together consecutive wins.

They did it by thoroughly dominating the Kings in the third period, even though they only had six shots on goal. The Kings did not have a shot on goal for the first nine minutes and managed only three in the whole period. And when King goaltender Byron Dafoe was pulled for an extra attacker with more than a minute remaining, they were unable to mount a serious threat. The game-winner, which broke a 3-3 tie, came from right wing Ray Sheppard, at 13:55, on the power play in the third period. He one-timed a slap shot from the edge of the right circle after a pinpoint pass from center Craig Janney, who was behind the net.

San Jose had gone on the power play when King defenseman Steve Finn received a double minor for cross checking at 10:48. Sheppard scored with 53 seconds remaining on the power play.

Considering the Sharks entered the game ranked sixth in the league on the power play, the Kings played into their hands by failing to stay out of the penalty box. San Jose was two-of-eight with the man advantage.

The other power-play goal came when the Kings showed no semblance of coverage down low as right wing Ulf Dahlen was allowed to skate behind the net. He emerged by the right post and scored on a wraparound past Dafoe, at 12:42 of the second, pulling the Sharks to a 2-2 tie. King defenseman Darryl Sydor remained standing alone at the left post.

Sydor's miscue later in the period led to the Sharks' scoring a short-handed goal to take a 3-2 lead at 15:50, as center Jamie Baker pounced on his turnover in the neutral zone and then cut to the right wing and scored an unassisted goal.

King defenseman Marty McSorley, however, responded less than a minute later to make it 3-3 with his seventh goal of the season, scoring at 16:37. McSorley has scored four goals in four games.

The other King goals were scored by Kevin Todd (sixth of the season) at 1:19 of the first period and Yanic Perreault (12th) at 1:42 of the second period. Perreault was the only King with more than one point as he assisted on McSorley's goal.

For the Sharks, Dahlen had a goal and an assist.

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King Notes

Defenseman Steven Finn returned to the lineup after missing four consecutive games because a pulled groin. Fiunn's return sidelined rookie defenseman Aki Berg. . . . In attendance was King owner Philip F. Anschutz, seeing a game at San Jose Arena for the first time. The new King owners have been going to most of the newer arenas in the NHL, making observations for their planned arena complex.

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