Kopitar, Kings cruise past Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks didn’t figure to be looking up at the expansion Vegas Golden Knights this season, but after two games that’s exactly the case.
The Los Angeles Kings have matched the Vegas team with a 2-0 start as Anze Kopitar scored twice in a 4-1 victory on Saturday night.
San Jose has lost its first two to start a season for the first time since 2005-06.
“That was just horrible,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “You can’t make excuses because the was a very, very poor effort from the first minutes to the 60th minute, from the power play to the penalty kill. It was just garbage hockey from us.”
San Jose was outshot 37-25 and its power play went 0-for-4.
“We haven’t played well enough to win games,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “This is a hard league. You have to pay a price to win games, and we haven’t done enough of that.”
A poor first period turned into a gong show for the hosts in the second. The Kings scored the only two goals of the period to take a 4-1 lead to the third.
But, in truth, both goals lasted touched Sharks’ sticks before slipping behind goalie Martin Jones.
“That’s a good indication of what we want to accomplish and how we want to play,” Kopitar said. “We didn’t score on the power play, but we moved the puck around and if we continue to move it like that, we’ll create a lot of opportunities.”
Speaking of San Jose’s Jones, he was lifted 14:05 into the second period after allowing four goals for a second straight outing to start the season. His numbers are identical in both games — 30 shots against and 26 saves.
He just didn’t make it to the third period unlike against Philadelphia during a 5-3 loss on opening night that included an empty-netter for the Flyers.
“Obviously, I’d like to play better but show up Monday, have a good practice and we’ll go from there,” Jones said. “It’s always tough when you’re taking penalties and we ended up defending most of the night. Tough to really get anything going.”
The disastrous second period started with the Sharks having to kill off a third straight minor — they allowed 10 shots combined in those six minutes — then failed to convert on a second power play when the top unit surrendered a breakaway shortie chance by Dustin Brown, who hit the post.
Then it really got bad.
The Kings were dominating the play but held only the precarious one-goal edge until Kopitar let go with a wrist shot from along the left boards that ramped up Brenden Dillon’s stick and whizzed past Jones at 12:07. Kopitar’s second of the night made it 3-1.
Then, just 1:58 later, Jones left a juicy rebound in front of the crease on a Kings dump-in. Dillon crashed down, but the two Sharks didn’t communicate who was going to handle the puck. Before you knew it, Melker Karlsson accidentally tapped it into the open net behind Jones.
Nick Shore was credited with the Kings’ goal — his first of the year at 14:05 — and backup goalie Aaron Dell was summoned to replace Jones.
“The thing I was most pleased with tonight is you got to check this team,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “They’re fast, they come at you. They have a really sound, not only attack, but their forecheck creates a lot in the offensive zone.
“We were pleased with that but certainly pleased with the intention to get to the net on the rush, using the whole zone and creating some offensive looks off some good cycles, change the point of attack.”
The Kings, who outshot the Sharks 17-6 in the opening 20 minutes, broke on top at 5:08 when Brown let a bad angle shot go from the bottom of the right circle that clipped Jones’ left shoulder and banked in just under the crossbar. Brown had some skating room as Pavelski was trying to defend for a pinching Paul Martin.
San Jose tied it just 66 seconds later when Mikkel Boedker scored the first of what he hopes are more than the 10 he managed last year. It came at 6:14 on a redirection in front off a Dillon blast from the left point.
But the Kings struck back with just 7.8 seconds remaining in the period, a tough time to give up a goal. Kopitar’s low wrister, just after he entered the Sharks’ zone, eluded Jones’ stick. Martin tried to block the shot out high, but did appear to screen Jones.
“That’s a tough one to give up,” Couture said. “You look back at that goal — long shift, tough line change, tough turnover that feeds Kopitar and they score. It’s a goal you can’t give up. We gave them life. We didn’t play well in the first, but we could have gone on 1-1 and tried to regroup. Obviously we didn’t have a good second or third either.”
NOTES: Kings F Nik Dowd made his season debut, playing alongside C Adrian Kempe and LW Michael Cammalleri on the third line. C Jonny Brodzinski came out of the lineup and joined C Andy Andreoff and D Paul LaDue as healthy scratches. ... LW Barclay Goodrow, C Ryan Carpenter and D Tim Heed did not dress for San Jose. ... Los Angeles next hosts Calgary on Tuesday. San Jose remains idle for four nights before resuming a season-opening five-game homestand against Buffalo.