Kings continue home dominance of Sharks

Dennis Bernstein, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The curse of Staples Center continues for the San Jose Sharks.
Despite owning one of the best records in the NHL, San Jose can't find a way to beat the Kings in Los Angeles. For the 12th time in the last 13 games, Los Angeles emerged with two points against its bitter Northern California rival.
Goaltender Martin Jones earned his seventh consecutive victory with a 31-save performance, and wingers Tyler Toffoli, Dwight King and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist to power the Kings to a 4-1 victory Thursday.
Los Angeles (24-8-4) climbed within a point of the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks as Jones continued the historic start to his rookie season. With a win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, he would equal the record for consecutive wins to start an NHL career set by the Philadelphia Flyers' Bob Froese in the 1982-83 season.
The Sharks grudgingly praised the rookie netminder after the defeat while admitting their ability to score with the man advantage killed any chance of leaving Southern California with a win.
"That goalie has been playing good, obviously," San Jose winger Joe Pavelski said. "We had a few scrambles, but when we get that amount of power-play time that we had, we have to get it moving and get some opportunities."
Jones clearly outplayed his counterpart, Antti Niemi. Los Angeles' first goal was stoppable and gave the Kings momentum, but Niemi's teammates failed to pick him up at other moments.
"He knows that, we know it, his teammates know it, but we are talking about one individual who wears the goalie pads," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said of Niemi. "There are some others who didn't have a very good night. The focus can't just go on him."
Toffoli said the team's consistent effort was the key to the victory, and killing off a major penalty to winger Dustin Brown was the turning point.
"We came out strong in the first period and we had a big kill to start the second period, and that kind of changed the game for us," Toffoli said. "We kept putting pressure, lots of shots on net, and we just got the lead and kept playing with it."
The Kings opened the scoring when defenseman Alec Martinez potted his third goal of the season at 5:26 of the second period. Toffoli gained possession behind the San Jose net and lifted a blind backhand pass to the point, and Martinez's floating wrist shot beat Niemi.
Toffoli made it 2-0 when he took a long lead pass from defenseman Slava Voynov and beat Niemi with a wrist shot at 11:15. Jones notched his first NHL point with the secondary assist.
The Kings extended the lead to 3-0 in the first minute of the final period when Carter notched his 10th goal of the season. King beat San Jose defenseman Justin Braun along the left boards, then paused and fed Carter, who beat a helpless Niemi.
King gave Los Angeles an insurmountable 4-0 lead at 6:21 when he converted off a goalmouth scramble that was initiated by a shot from the point by defenseman Robyn Regehr. King's 10th of the season is a career high, and he appears to have found a home on a line with Carter and center Anze Kopitar.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said the attitude his team displays against San Jose at home extends throughout the season.
"I don't think our team ever really struggles with confidence," he said. "It does not really matter what the score is, I don't think confidence is an issue for our team."
Sharks rookie winger Tomas Hertl suffered a knee injury late in the first period when Brown delivered a knee-on-knee hit just inside the blue line. Brown was assessed a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct and Hertl did not return to the game after limping to the bench.
Center Patrick Marleau scored San Jose's lone goal in the final three minutes. The Sharks (21-8-6) are struggling in December, going 3-5-1 while falling to third place in the Pacific Division. Winger Marty Havlat earned the lone assist on Marleau's team-leading 16th marker.
NOTES: Sharks LW Patrick Marleau played in his 1,200th NHL game. He is the 11th active player to appear in 1,200 games and the 16th player ever to appear in that many games for one franchise. ... San Jose did not dress D Jason Demers and LW John McCarthy . ... The Kings activated C Colin Fraser and returned rookie C Linden Vey to their AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H. ... Los Angeles scratched LW Daniel Carcillo, RW Matt Frattin and D Willie Mitchell. Mitchell missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. ... Two Kings celebrated milestones, D Drew Doughty played in his 400th career NHL game, and RW Justin Williams appeared in his 300th game in a Los Angeles uniform.

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