Game 26; 16-6-4

SAN JOSE – It was their first meeting to the SAP Center this year hoping to end their losing streak in the Sharks’ home building. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Kings, said losing streak will continue thanks to a 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose who now holds a share of the Pacific Division lead as a result – but not before two epic shootouts.

If Kings fans were wishing for a fast start, it was granted as Jeff Carter, in just his second game back from a broken foot, scored his sixth just 18 seconds into the contest to give Los Angeles the early lead. Having set up the tying goal on Monday in Vancouver, Carter added to his recent success with the goal to point his team in the right direction. Dwight King and Mike Richards assisted on the tally.

Despite jumping out to the early lead, it was the Sharks who had the momentum in the opening period. They outshot the Kings 18-8 in the first 20 minutes but just could not solve Ben Scrivens who was solid – a site many Kings fans have now gotten accustomed to.

Unfortunately, Scrivens couldn’t stop them all.

Just 2:43 into the second period, Joe Pavelski wristed his ninth past the Kings netminder to knot the game at one and with the assist, Tyler Kennedy continued his point streak. The score remained tied until the 16:54 mark when Joe Thornton gave San Jose the lead courtesy of his third from rookie Tomas Hertl.

Entering the third, the Kings were forced to play catch-up again and, again, they succeeded.

As great as Ben Scrivens has been since the injury to Jonathan Quick, he decided to add something extra to his name as, at the 6:23 mark of the final frame, he assisted on Drew Doughty’s fifth. Again, the game was tied and, for the fourth-straight game, the Kings were heading to overtime.

While they outshot the Sharks 4-2 in the extra session, nothing was settled and after firing 40 shots against each other, the game was heading to a second – and more official – shootout.

In the shootout, Anze Kopitar kicked things off by giving Los Angeles the lead after the first round. But they lead didn’t last as the next shooter, Joe Pavelski, beat Scrivens to tie it.

After Scrivens and Antti Niemi stopped the next few shots, the aforementioned Tomas Hertl scored in the fourth round to give San Jose the lead. Again, it was short-lived as the very next shooter, Justin Williams, tied it for the Kings. Then, Dan Boyle regained the San Jose lead on the next shot before Dustin Brown tied it again on the shot after.

After no scoring in rounds six and seven, Joe Thornton started the eighth round with a goal to give the Sharks yet another lead.

It was up to Tyler Toffoli to extend the shootout but it wasn’t to be as Antti Niemi stopped the shot giving San Jose the hard-fought two points and a split in their season series with Los Angeles.

Wednesday night’s contest certainly was a back-and-forth affair and didn’t lack any excitement. After the quick start, Kings fans were certainly frustrated without any more goals until later but at the same time, appreciative of the blue-collar effort of Ben Scrivens who continued to prove that his acquisition was a sound investment by the Kings.

After being convincingly outshot in the first, the Kings turned the tide in the second by outshooting San Jose 19-7, which is usually a good sign but considering the Sharks outscored Los Angeles 2-0 in that middle frame, positivity wasn’t blooming as much as it probably should have been.

In terms of shots, the third was a bit more even with San Jose doing the outshooting by a 13-9 tally. Again, Scrivens was up to the task.

Of course, in all fairness, as great as Ben Scrivens was in the Los Angeles net, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the outstanding play of San Jose’s Antti Niemi who stopped just as many shots as Scrivens en route to the shootout – and for Niemi ultimately, the victory. The Finnish backstop was named the game’s first star and rightfully so. Ben Scrivens was just as deservedly named the game’s second star.

While I can point out a lack of power play efficiency was a factor in the Kings’ losing the game – they went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage – I can just as poignantly emphasize that their superior penalty-kill – 3-for-3 on the night – was a central reason why the Kings earned a point, increasing their streak to 11 games.

It’s never pleasant losing to such a heated rival but with the aforementioned point streak, exceptional penalty-killing and the play of Ben Scrivens in addition to Jeff Carter getting on the scoresheet again, there are plenty of positives for the Los Angeles Kings to take from this loss.

While the loss did prevent them from having a share of the division lead, they do sit with 36 points – just one behind both San Jose and Anaheim for that top spot in the Pacific. Then again, it is just the end of November so why worry about divisional seeding right now?

Overall, not an ideal way to finish the evening but the Kings do get the point while taking quite a few positives with them back home where they will be off for a couple of days before hitting the ice on Saturday night. Then, they will host the up-and-coming Calgary Flames and for all you Canadian-based Kings fans, the game will be aired on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.