Game 78; 45-27-6
SAN JOSE - One night after clinching a playoff spot, the Los Angeles Kings traveled north to San Jose where they will very likely begin the playoffs against the Sharks. They did jump out to a fast start but in the end, it wasn't enough as the Sharks came to win 2-1, ending the season series at 3-1-1 in Los Angeles's favour.
The Kings opened the scoring just 3:36 into the game as Alec Martinez's point shot found its way to the back of the net, but not before the puck deflected off the sticks of Jarret Stoll and then Jordan Nolan. The goal was Nolan's sixth of the year.
Unfortunately for the silver-and-black, it wasn't too long after the Nolan goal that Drew Doughty left the game. In what looked to be a routine collision, Doughty skated off the ice, leaving the game with an upper-body injury - possibly his shoulder - and did not return.
As expected, hostilities were high at the Shark Tank on this night. A few scraps, some questionable penalties and a series of tussles have fans from both sides eagerly awaiting the playoffs to begin.
Martin Jones, who got in the start in goal for Los Angeles, was good but he was screened on San Jose's tying goal in the second. At the 7:15 mark of the frame, Brent Burns scored a power play goal to knot things up. Then, at the 12:13 mark, Logan Couture made a great effort from behind the net to pot his 21st past Jones to give the home team their first lead of the night.
Outshooting the Kings 10-9, the second period was San Jose's strongest as they were limited to just six shots in the third. Antti Niemi was good in the Sharks goal but rarely tested on this night.
With the Sharks win, they pull to within one point of first-place Anaheim in the Pacific, although the Ducks do have two games in hand.
It was an unfortunate loss for the Kings, falling to a heated rival. The most pressing issue for the Kings tonight, however, is the status of defenseman Drew Doughty. The silver-and-black did look sluggish without him but then again, they did play the previous night in Los Angeles.
Friday is an off-day for the Kings but they are back to work on Saturday as they pay a visit to Rogers Arena to take on the underachieving Vancouver Canucks.