November 8, 2011

Sharks Get First Bite in 2011 and Destroy Kings

Monday night was the first time the Sharks and Kings have played each other since Joe Thornton knocked the Kings out of the playoffs with his game winning goal in Game 6.

Both teams made big trades in the offseason, most notably the Sharks bringing in Brent Burns and Martin Havlat while the Kings traded for former Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards. There are new faces on the ice but the Nor-Cal – So-Cal rivalry is still as strong as ever. This was the first of six regular season games between the two, with a good chance that they can meet again in the playoffs.

The Pacific division is the best in hockey, so even though it is early November this game carried great importance as the race could come down to the last few games before the division champion is crowned.
The Sharks have been inconsistent all year while the Kings have not been able to find the back of the net, but thanks to great goaltending by Jonathan Quick they have still found a way to pick up points. The game started off strong but cooled down midway into the first and while LA outshot the Sharks 14-7 in the first it ended at 0-0.

The second period was filled with goals, Jack Johnson notching the first of the game after a face off win while on a 5-on-3 power play. It was a shot that Niemi should have blocked but as we have seen from him the year he is not at the top of his game. Coming off an injury and missing the preseason looks like it has affected him so far this year.

The Sharks drew a penalty and the momentum shifted their way. They did not score with the man advantage but shortly after the penalty expired Joe Thornton snuck one in between Quick’s glove and the post. The goal was a historic one for Joe Thornton as he picked up his 1,013th career point, tying his favorite player as a kid, Pat LaFontaine, for 73rd on the all time points list.

Shortly after that goal Dan Boyle brought the puck into the King’s zone and made a great pass to the cutting Patrick Marleau who deflected it under Quick’s right arm to take the 2-1 lead. The Sharks were swarming once again when they were on another power play and Dan Boyle scores his first of the year on a slap shot from the point to go up by 2.

The third period was action packed as well, with Logan Couture scoring 6:40 in for his 6th of the year. The Kings bounced back a minute an d a half later with an Anze Kopitar goal, scoring off his own rebound while on a power play to get back within 2 goals.  The Sharks held on to win the game 4-2, playing their most consistent game of the year and getting a big win against a division foe.

The three stars for the game tonight were Dan Boyle with a goal and an assist, Joe Thornton who played the best with a goal and an assist got the second star and Patrick Marleau who scored a goal two go along with his two assists was the first star.

The Sharks face former teammates Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatly when the Minnesota Wild come to town Thursday night, the second game of a big week for the Sharks.

By: Michael Christie

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