Couture leads Sharks over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Logan Couture and the San Jose Sharks made themselves at home at Staples Center again.
Couture had two goals and an assist, and Ryan Carpenter scored his first NHL goal, leading the Sharks to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
“This is how we played down the stretch last year in the playoffs,” Couture said. “We got up teams and it’s tough for teams to come back.”
Goalie Martin Jones stopped 26 shots as the Sharks (14-9-1) remained atop of the Pacific Division. Couture added an empty-net goal with 1:17 remaining in the contest.
Kevin Labanc also scored and Joel Ward registered two assists for the Sharks, winners of five of their last six. They have captured six in a row at Staples and defeated the Kings in eight of their last 10 meetings.
“They play tough in this building,” Couture said. “They come out with energy, they’re physical, big and strong, difficult to play against. So, we’re happy with the way we played, especially on a back-to-back.”
The Sharks recorded a 2-1 overtime decision over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night at San Jose.
“We needed some contributions tonight,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s a tough situation. It’s back-to-back ... L.A.’s rested. You look at their home record we knew this was going to be a tough game, and we challenged the group to have contributions from everybody.”
Goaltender Peter Budaj had 20 saves for the Kings (12-10-1), who had their season-high five-game winning streak halted. The Kings also lost at home for the first time in six games. They are 9-3 at Staples.
San Jose beat Los Angeles for the second time this season. The Sharks captured a 2-1 win on Oct. 2 at SAP Center.
The Sharks jumped to an early lead by scoring on their initial shot on goal. Labanc, gathering a pass from Couture on a rush, ripped a shot past Budaj at 3:32 of the first period to put San Jose on top 1-0. It was the second goal this season for Labanc.
The Sharks added a pair of goals in the final minute of the period. A tip-in by Couture of a Joonas Donskoi attempt with 55 seconds remaining made it 2-0. Couture has nine goals this season.
Thirty seconds later, Carpenter buried a wrist shot from the right circle for a three-goal advantage.
“Feels good. You probably never know if you’re going to score one or not, so it’s nice to get one,” said Carpenter, who played his first game against the Kings. “Now you don’t have to think about it anymore.”
Kings center Anze Kopitar said his club didn’t match the effort of the Sharks.
“The first period wasn’t nearly as intense as it needed to be,” Kopitar said. “They scored two 2-on-1 goals, which, giving odd-man rushes against a team like that, it’s certainly not the way to win. We didn’t play good enough to win.”
In the second, Kings right winger Dustin Brown scored on a power play to slice the deficit to two. Brown retrieved a loose puck just outside the crease and punched it in past David Schlemko and Jones at 3:01 of the period for his fourth goal.
Brown passed Jim Fox (479) to move into ninth place on the Kings all-time points list at 480. Brown also tied Charlie Simmer (222) for eighth on the club’s career goals’ list.
However, those achievements were footnotes in a disappointing loss.
“They scored two goals in the first period on odd-man rushes,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think that’s a pretty easy statement to make for me. We missed the net lots in the first period. We missed the net and turned the puck over.”
NOTES: Sharks RW Joonas Donskoi played his 100th career game. Donskoi performed in his first contest against the Kings and scored his first goal against them Oct. 7, 2015, at Staples Center. That also was the first game and win for Peter DeBoer as San Jose coach. ... Kings RW Dustin Brown played his 200th consecutive game, which is the longest streak on the club. ... Los Angeles G Peter Budaj played his 21st straight contest, the longest stretch of his career. ... San Jose scratched C Tommy Wingels, D Dylan DeMelo and LW Matt Nieto. ... RW Teddy Purcell, LW Kyle Clifford and D Tom Gilbert were unavailable for Los Angeles. ... The Kings visit the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. ... The Sharks host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.