Game 36; 24-8-4
LOS ANGELES – He entered Thursday night with a franchise-best 6-0-0 record to start a career. But goaltender Martin Jones was in for his toughest test to date as his Los Angeles Kings hosted the San Jose Sharks. Neither Jones nor the Kingdom had anything to worry about.
As exciting as this Battle of California has been, Thursday’s installment proved to be no exception.
While neither team was able to score in the opening frame, the Kings and Sharks exchanged shots like it was going out of style with Los Angeles holding the 13-10 advantage at the intermission.
With just over a minute to go in the first, however, the game was marred with a bit of controversy as captain Dustin Brown was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for colliding knee-on-knee with San Jose’s rookie phenom Tomas Hertl.
The play happened in the Sharks zone with Brown simply running into Hertl. While he may not have had time to avoid the hit, Hertl made little, if any, attempt to swerve out of the way while Brown was simply skating through not making the slightest effort to injure the rookie. Overall, it was an unfortunate incident with Hertl being forced to leave the game. Nevertheless, the Sharks were given a five-minute major power play. Unfortunately for San Jose, they were only given three minutes on the advantage with Brent Burns getting called for interference on Martin Jones.
When the Sharks did have their power play, however, they were shut down by Jones and Los Angeles’s pesky defense.
Shortly after killing off the major, the Kings gave the Staples faithful something extra to get excited about.
At the 5:26 mark of the middle frame, Alec Martinez wristed his third past Antti Niemi to open the scoring. Tyler Toffoli picked up the assist. But the silver-and-black were not done there as at the 11:15 mark, the Kings set up a beautiful play only seen in video games.
After Martin Jones took the puck behind his own net, he relayed it to Slava Voynov who shot it up the ice where he found Toffoli who sniped it over the shoulder of Niemi and into the top corner to give Los Angeles the 2-0 lead. The goal was Toffoli’s ninth which is third among rookies in the league and just as importantly, Jones builds on his already-impressive start with an assist.
In the third, the Kings wasted little time padding their lead as Jeff Carter tipped in his 10th off a Dwight King shot just 36 seconds into the period. Robyn Regehr picked up the second assist on the play.
Then, at 6:16, it was Dwight King contributing again as he scored his 10th to put Los Angeles up by four. Jeff Carter assisted while Robyn Regehr chipped in with his second helper on as many goals.
Unfortunately for the Kings, Patrick Marleau broke the shutout streak at 17:50 but it was much too little, much too late as the Kings cruise to their second-straight win while increasing their division lead on San Jose to four points and move to within a single point of the Pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks.
Aside from Marleau’s late goal and Brown’s controversial major, the Los Angeles Kings had nothing to feel bad about on this night as they took control with Martin Jones doing what he’s been doing best: shutting the door.
Before I continue, I just want to give credit to arguably the Kingdom’s hottest couple, Chris and Christina Thomas, who thought of the headline for this article. Recently, the couple celebrated their sixth anniversary of when Chris proposed to Christina and both have been devout Kings fans for a lot longer than that.
Overall, a huge boost for the Kings’ morale as a result of their win as they now set their sights on Saturday night when they prepare to host the Colorado Avalanche.