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Shootout win lifts Sharks into tie with Kings

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Raffi Torres found himself in unfamiliar territory, and because he trusted his skills, he may have just helped the San Jose Sharks set the stage for a postseason rematch with the Los Angeles Kings.

Rarely called upon in shootouts, Torres was the only shooter of the six from either team to find the back of the net Tuesday in the tiebreaking competition. As a result, San Jose's 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champs leaves the teams tied for fourth in the Western Conference with 53 points apiece and four games remaining.

"Oh yeah. I don't play in overtimes," Torres said. "I was kind of cold on the bench, but when you get the call, you've got to trust your practice habits."

Torres slipped a backhand shot past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

"I was a little nervous," Torres admitted. "I went in there nice and slow, got him to bite on the shot and slipped it under him."

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped attempts by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and Anze Kopitar missed the target in the shootout. Niemi made 41 saves during regulation and overtime while playing on the second night of back-to-back games.

"Both goalies were pretty outstanding," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.

The Sharks scored goals on consecutive shots just before the middle of the second period, but the Kings answered with two of their own late in the period to even the game.

San Jose's Brent Burns scored his eighth goal of the season since moving from defense to forward. After stealing the puck from Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner, he beat Quick on the near post at 8:48 of the middle period.

Burns fed T.J. Galiardi with a goal-mouth feed from the left corner, and the San Jose forward managed to tip the puck past Quick before Kings defenseman Drew Doughty could stop the shot at 9:30.

"It's nice to be able to have a player like that," Sutter said of Burns. "That's a luxury they have. Not too many guys in the history of the game who could do that. You could probably literally count the number who could."

San Jose (23-13-7) got into penalty trouble, killing a two-man disadvantage, but the Sharks surrendered a 5-on-4 power-play goal at 13:59. Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin blew a shot from the middle of the ice on the blue line through a screen provided by Trevor Lewis at.

Los Angeles (24-14-5) scored a 4-on-4 goal at 18:41 to tie it. Niemi failed to cover Kopitar's mini-break, and Dustin Brown pushed Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle out of the crease while poking the loose puck over the goal line.

"Some good shifts, some bad shifts. At this time of the year, sometimes it's really the team that deserves to win and usually does," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "I don't think we deserved to win tonight."

A fast-paced first period featured a combined 20 shots (11-9 edge for the Kings), but no goals. San Jose had the only power play, courtesy of Kopitar's hook of Joe Pavelski, but the Sharks struggled with entry into the Los Angeles zone and never produced even one shot.

"Crazy game, it was back-and-forth all night," Galiardi said. "They have so much talent on their team, and we've got a lot on ours, too. It was a see-saw battle, but we pulled that extra point."

NOTES: San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan played for the first time since being acquired at the trade deadline. Hannan, who played the first 508 games of his NHL career with the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round in 1997, was out since March 17 with an upper-body injury sustained as a member of the Nashville Predators. Rookie Matt Irwin came out of the lineup to make room for Hannan on the blue line. Forwards James Sheppard and Tim Kennedy and defenseman Matt Tennyson also did not dress for San Jose. ... Forwards Colin Fraser and Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Alec Martinez did not dress for Los Angeles.... The Kings have a five-game road losing streak. Los Angeles had not lost five in a row on the road since Feb. 25-March 13, 2009. ... In the midst of playing four of five at home, the Kings return to Los Angeles for games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars on Thursday and Sunday, respectively. ... The Sharks returned home to open a four-game homestand before closing the regular season with two away. They are 15-1-5 in San Jose.
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