The Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) feels the pain quick after the San Jose Sharks Logan Couture lights the lamp with a first period goal at SAP Center in San Jose on Mon Mar 22, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Matthew Harrington
The San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 Monday night, riding an outstanding Martin Jones performance and a herculean penalty killing effort to victory and a snap out of a four-game skid. Jones made 41 saves, Ryan Donato and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks (12-14-4) and Patrick Marleau tied Steve Larmer for fourth place on the all-time iron man list with 844 consecutive games played.
“We looked a little sluggish,” said Sharks coach Bob Boughner. “I attribute that to taking too many stick infraction penalties. We tried to roll our bench. LA was a team that played last night and we wanted to roll our bench and grind them down a bit. Everytime we killed a penalty, we got our lines going then we got another penalty. It was a choppy game but our penalty kill was really strong.”
When the Sharks were able to roll their lines, they did get a good result that directly impacted the outcome. Ryan Donato made the most of his first opportunity with the Sharks this year down the middle, centering the fourth line in his first appearance in the center’s role with Kurtis Gabriel and John Leonard on his wings. Donato scored his fifth of the year on a wraparound backhander that slipped through the five-hole of Jonathan Quick 3:48 into the third period. Leonard picked up an assist on Donato’s second goal of the three-game homestand.
“I liked him there,” said Boughner of his fourth line center.” I liked that line. Put in proper positioning. They gave us exactly what we needed at the right time of the game.”
The Sharks were coming off their fifth penalty of the game just seconds before after Nikolai Knyzhov picked up his second penalty of the game just five seconds into the period. He joined play after a fifth-consecutive minor to pick up the secondary assist. The penalty kill really was the Sharks MVP after a flawless showing that including Martin Jones making five saves short handed.
“He’s playing bigger in his net,” said Boughner of Jones. “He’s coming out of his net a little more, trying to get to the top of that blue paint. I think that’s helping his game. He’s been working hard at making the proper adjustments. For me, I’m not a goalie guy, but it’s about getting the save you need at the right time of the game and he did that.”
The Sharks had the early lead after Logan Couture snapped his five-game scoreless skid 8:22 into the game. His shot hit Quick and ricocheted off Kurtis MacDermid into the Kings net. Kevin Labanc and Evander Kane assisted on the goal. To atone for his mistake, MacDermid fed fellow Kurtis Gabriel a couple knuckle sandwiches in a first period fight.
The Sharks had one of their better faceoff performances of the season, winning 57 percent of draws but it was a faceoff loss that led the Kings’ goal. Gabe Vilardi won the faceoff against the Sharks best faceoff man Tomas Hertl, hit Austin Wagner on the half-wall who slid it to Matt Roy at the point. Roy’s slap shot beat Jones to tie the game with just 2:29 left in the second period for his first of the year.
The Sharks continue the four-game homestand with a contest Wednesday night against the Kings (13-12-6) again. Presumably Devan Dubnyk will be in net, but Boughner could ride the hot hand with Jones.
Notes: Marleau moved up to the second line, on the wing with Timo Meier sandwiching Tomas Hertl….Rudolfs Balcers was back in the lineup after missing the last two games and five of the last six…Kurtis Gabriel and Kurtis MacDermid’s fight was premeditated, the two had discussions along the red line during warm-ups…Dylan Gambrell and Tomas Hertl both won 70 percent or better of their draws Monday night…Matt Nieto was out for the second consecutive contest.