Published January 13, 2015
The Los Angeles Kings look to avoid losing three straight games for the first time since the opening week of the season as they conclude a home-and-home set with the visiting San Jose Sharks.
The Kings won 11 of 14 before back-to-back road setbacks to Phoenix and San Jose this week. It marks the first time that the defending Stanley Cup champions have lost two in a row since Feb. 7 and 10, also a pair of road games.
Los Angeles will play its next five at home, where it has won eight of its last nine.
The Kings could not overcome a three-goal deficit in Thursday's 4-3 loss in San Jose. The Sharks got a first-period goal from Brent Burns and then scored twice on the power play after Los Angeles' Jake Muzzin picked up an extra four minutes of penalty time following a fight with Andrew Desjardins.
Desjardins had just leveled the Kings' Colin Fraser with a hit behind the L.A. net and Muzzin rushed to defend his teammate, but picked up the extra penalty time for fighting with a facemask on.
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter declined to talk to reporters after the game, though Fraser admitted to it being a clean hit.
"I mean, you're allowed to hit. It's the NHL," said Fraser. "I've got to kind of put an onus on myself and know he's coming, which, obviously I didn't. I'll take a clean hit. If it was the other way around, I would have been trying to hit him just as hard."
Matt Irwin and Logan Couture both scored on the ensuing power play and Couture added his second goal of the game in the third period. Antti Niemi made 34 saves, though he yielded two goals in the third period.
San Jose held on to snap a four-game slide (0-2-2).
"I thought where we failed a little bit down the stretch was we didn't continue to forecheck," said head coach Todd McLellan, who earned his 207th win behind San Jose's bench, passing Ron Wilson for the most in franchise history. "We were an effective team on the forecheck, now we were going to stand off and defend. You can't do that against a good team like that."
Dustin Brown scored his second goal of the game for the Kings with 7:12 to play and Dwight King added a tally with 3:20 on the clock. Jonathan Quick was pulled after allowing the Sharks' second power-play goal, ending with nine saves, while Jonathan Bernier made 13 saves on 14 shots faced in relief to take the loss.
The Kings will now look to avoid losing three straight since opening the season with three losses in a row from Jan. 19-24 and enter play tied with the Sharks for second in the Pacific Division and also even with the Minnesota Wild along with San Jose for the sixth spot in the Western Conference.
While the Kings play their next five at home, the Sharks will open a five-game swing with this game and have lost nine of their past 11 on the road.
The Sharks snapped a four-game slide in L.A. on April 5 of last season and the two clubs have split the past eight in Los Angeles overall.
San Jose has won three straight and six of the previous eight encounters overall.