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Defenseman-turned-forward Burns helps Sharks top Kings

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE -- Logan Couture scored two goals, and Brent Burns continued to contribute as a forward as the San Jose Sharks came to life Thursday night.

Couture's 12th goal of the season and second of the night 47 seconds into the third period was the game-winner as San Jose handed defending the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings only their fourth loss in 13 games, 4-3.

"We've got to clean up our defensive zone," said Kings captain Dustin Brown, who scored two goals. "Climbing out of a 4-1 deficit is not an easy thing to do. Our goals-against have to come down."

The Sharks snapped a four-game winless streak.

"Every win is the biggest win of the season," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Saturday's game is going to be the biggest win of the season."

Burns, a defenseman who became a forward after returning from injury earlier in the week, keyed Couture's goal by stripping Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty and leading a 2-on-0 break.

"He's an animal out there," Couture said of Burns. "He's reckless, but in a good way."

Burns was originally drafted as a forward, but he played mostly on defense in seven seasons with the Minnesota Wild before joining San Jose in 2011-12. The Sharks are at the point of trying anything to get more offensive production, and they have a surplus of blue-liners.

"He really doesn't have to think," Couture said. "He just goes in there, plays his big body around, shoots well, skates well. It's fun to play with him."

Burns has two goals and three points in two games at forward.

"It's fun, it's different," Burns said. "You can try lots of things as a forward you can't try on defense. It's just a different game."

Linemate Joe Thornton sees the possibilities in the move.

"He's going to continue to get better and better," Thornton said. "He's a talent, and it's real fun to watch him right now."

The Kings attempted to rally late, getting goals from Brown and Dwight King in the final six minutes, but they couldn't land the equalizer.

"Look at how we were successful last year. We weren't scoring a lot of goals, but we were winning games 1-0, 2-1," Brown said.

The Sharks cashed in on a retaliation penalty to score consecutive power-play goals and take a 3-1 lead in a spirited second period.

Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin drew minors for instigation and fighting with a visor after coming to the aid of teammate Colin Fraser, who got hammered with a clean, hard check behind the Los Angeles net by Sharks fourth-line forward Andrew Desjardins.

"I'm not a fighter," Muzzin said. "I didn't like seeing my teammate get hit like that, so I had to do something about it. I tried my best."

San Jose rookie defenseman Matt Irwin one-timed a Scott Gomez cross-ice feed, a shot that seemed to fool Kings goalie Jonathan Quick at 7:07. Just 1:27 into the second power play that followed immediately, Couture scored through a Patrick Marleau screen from the center of the blue line.

"He turned the outlook of the game totally around," Thornton said of Desjardins. "We love when he plays like that. Hopefully he'll continue to play like that."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter replaced Quick with Jonathan Bernier after the starter surrendered three goals on 12 shots.

Los Angeles struck with a power-play goal of its own as Brown's sweeping shot from the left circle beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at 9:48 of the second period. San Jose defenseman Justin Braun was off after hooking Kings forward Anze Kopitar 21 seconds earlier.

The Sharks scored the only goal of an opening period the Kings dominated in shots, 16-6.

Burns scored for the second time in as many games after missing all but six of the team's first 25 games. He punched home a rebound in close at 11:09 while Couture and Muzzin battled to the side of the goal.

NOTES: The division-rival Kings and Sharks met for the first time this season in the first end of a home-and-home that concludes Saturday in Los Angeles. ... Injured Sharks forward Martin Havlat (lower-body injury) and backup goalie Thomas Greiss (neck) skated Thursday morning, but they remain on injured reserve. San Jose coach Todd McLellan said Havlat is "almost at full speed." ... The Kings have not played past regulation in 20 consecutive games since Jan. 31. Only five of those contests were one-goal decisions. The Sharks have gone to overtime or into a shootout eight times over the same period. ... Marleau was honored in a pregame ceremony for recently scoring his 400th career NHL goal. ... Forwards TJ Galiardi, Tim Kennedy and defenseman Jason Demers were healthy scratches for San Jose. ... Forwards Brad Richardson, Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Davis Drewiske did not dress for Los Angeles.
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