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Hockey

What we learned from the Kings’ 4-1 win over the Sharks

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The Kings’ Tanner Pearson, left, shoots as the Sharks’ Chris Tierney defends during the first period on Saturday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Faster. Stronger. Better. Quick-er.

To say the Kings looked like a different team than past outfits is an understatement after a 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks. They look looser offensively while not surrendering their defensive principles.

Their top line dominated and so did Jonathan Quick, whose only goal allowed came on a deflection.

Here’s what we learned:

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It was quality and quantity. The Kings put 38 shots on goal, and 17 of those were in the first period. More important to them was that they came from different areas of the ice, a point of emphasis after a lot of perimeter shots last season.

“I think it was a big difference from what we’d consider our [38]-shot totals last year — the types of chances we’re getting,” Dustin Brown said.

The defensemen are more active. Derek Forbort pinched below San Jose’s goal line. Christian Folin drew an interference penalty from Joe Pavelski after he crossed the blue line into the Sharks’ zone.

That type of aggressive activity from the defense might have made former coach Darryl Sutter shudder. But these are the new Kings, and the shackles are off. Kings coach John Stevens still stresses defense, but his new open style can work with that and feed the offense.

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“I think our back end continues to be solid for us,” Stevens said. “I thought we played faster with the puck and I thought we did a good job of really playing fast without the puck.

“We got on top of their rush. We didn’t allow numbers coming at us. That was a big thing. We really limited their ability to kind of make you chase them from behind. That led to a lot of opportunity.”

Adrian Kempe’s role is diminishing. Kempe played two shifts in the third period for the second straight game and Alex Iafallo appears to have taken his place on the second power-play unit.

Stevens has been critical of Kempe’s line, and it’s a work in progress at best. It’s not a great start for Kempe, the Kings’ first-round pick from 2014 whose young career has been marked by inconsistency.

curtis.zupke@latimes.com

Twitter: @curtiszupke


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