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Sharks nip Kings in eight-round shootout

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Nothing ever changes when the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings. The game is going to be close to the bitter end.

The bitter end came in the eighth round of a shootout, when center Joe Thornton scored to lead the Sharks to a 3-2 win over the Kings on Wednesday night.

San Jose won a shootout for only the second time in six tries this season. The Kings lost but extended their points streak to a franchise-tying 11 consecutive games (7-0-4).

"We have a team that expects to win, and we have to find a way," Kings goalie Ben Scrivens said. "That starts with me trying to figure how to make an extra save or two in the shootout."

Four of San Jose's eight shooters beat Scrivens, who is 5-0-3 since taking over for injured regular Jonathan Quick. Center Joe Pavelski, left winger Tomas Hertl and defenseman Dan Boyle also converted for the hosts in the shootout.

"Joe has a good reach, but I thought I was there," Scrivens said of the backhand shot that just snuck in on the near post. "He got by me."

Thornton converted a shootout goal for the first time since Dec. 18, 2007, against the Anaheim Ducks. He last attempted one Dec. 11, 2009, against the Dallas Stars.

"Joe's been doing that for how long?" Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan said. "He showed his patience out there with his breakaways. Stuffed one in there for us. It was a big win for us."

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped four of Los Angeles' eight shooters, and Kings center Mike Richards missed the target.

"Eight rounds, that's pretty rare," Kings left winger Dwight King said. "It was entertaining."

The teams each had 40 shots through regulation and overtime.

The Kings tied the game at 6:23 of the third period when defenseman Drew Doughty's pass intended for center Jarret Stoll instead ricocheted off the leg of a back-skating Hannan and past Niemi.

"It's a tough bounce," Hannan said. "They got one, we got one, it came down to a battle."

Despite being outshot 19-7, the Sharks scored twice in the second period to take a one-goal edge.

Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin blocked a shot by Sharks right winger Tyler Kennedy, but Pavelski swooped in for the loose puck and beat Scrivens at 2:43 of the middle period after the Los Angeles goalie stopped the first 19 shots he faced.

The visitors failed to convert during four minutes of Boyle's double-minor for high sticking right winger Justin Williams. Niemi was spectacular in turning away four tough shots during the second half of the advantage.

"We've had a couple of those in the last couple of games," Hannan said of extended kills. "Guys bucked down. Nemo made big saves. We did it when we had to."

San Jose broke the 1-1 tie at 16:54 of the second thanks to good fortune. After Doughty committed a turnover at the Los Angeles blue line, Hertl rimmed a puck behind the net. In his haste to help defenseman Willie Mitchell, Scrivens accidentally kicked the puck back into his own net with Thornton in hot pursuit. Thornton got credit for his third goal of the season.

"It was a good first period," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We did what we wanted. We deserved better in the second period, and then we played a pretty good third period."

The Sharks outshot the Kings 18-8 in the first period but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes because they allowed a goal 18 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Right winger Jeff Carter won a battle on the boards then beat Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart to the front of the net to tap a feed from King past Niemi. King beat Hertl behind the goal line to retrieve a puck shot wide moments earlier by Richards.

"Definitely not the way you want to start a game, but the guys came back with a lot of shots on net and pressure," Hannan said.

It took awhile for the Sharks to free themselves from the Kings' heavy forecheck, which coincided with difficulty in the faceoff circle. Niemi saved Boyle when the defenseman turned the puck over to Richards, who was then stopped on a backhand breakaway with 9:30 left.

Once San Jose found its legs, it put a lot of pressure on Scrivens.

The rookie netminder stopped left winger Patrick Marleau at 11:18 when the speedy Sharks winger darted inside Doughty and took the puck to the front of the net. Boyle's backhand attempt in close was stopped a minute later.

Pavelski's line created a handful of chances during a long cycle that got the Kings' defense running around, and Hertl followed with two in-close opportunities inside the opening period's final minute.

"Give L.A. credit, they're a good team," Hannan said. "It's going to be a battle every time we play them, it's going to come down to the wire."

NOTES: Sharks C Joe Thornton is in sole possession of 50th place on the all-time points list with 1,143. ... Second-year D Matt Irwin returned to San Jose's lineup after being a healthy scratch in six straight games and nine of the last 10. Irwin's benching stemmed from an Oct. 30 game in Los Angeles, won by the Kings in overtime, 4-3. ... D Jason Demers, F John McCarthy and RW Matt Pelech were healthy scratches for the Sharks. Pelech was promoted from Worcester on Tuesday while rookie RW Matt Nieto was assigned to San Jose's affiliate in the AHL. A healthy scratch in San Jose's last two games, Nieto opened the season with two goals and six points in 12 games before going scoreless in seven straight. ... The Sharks began a challenging stretch of three games Wednesday to close out a season-long, five-game homestand. The St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks follow Los Angeles in on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to cap the three-game-in-four-night stretch. ... RW Matt Frattin, C Colin Fraser and LW Tanner Pearson did not dress for the Kings.
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