LOS ANGELES (AP)—Jarret Stoll scored the only shootout goal in the fourth round and the Los Angeles Kings headed into the All-Star break with their third straight victory, 3-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
Jonathan Quick made 22 saves and stopped all four San Jose tries in the shootout, snapping the Pacific Division rival’s four-game winning streak.
Ryan Smyth scored his 19th goal and Alexei Ponikarovsky tied it early in the third period for the Kings, who played their final home game until Feb. 24. They’ll be on a 10-game road trip while Staples Center is occupied by the Grammys and the NBA’s All-Star weekend.
Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi scored 39 seconds apart late in the second period for the Sharks, who had won three straight at Staples Center.
Antti Niemi made 18 saves for the Sharks, but Stoll beat him cleanly in the shootout after All-Star Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson both hit the post on Los Angeles’ first two tries. Quick then stopped Patrick Marleau on the Sharks’ final try in the NHL’s final game before the All-Star weekend break.
The Sharks and Kings will be grateful to get out the January doldrums next week. Both clubs recently emerged from their worst skids of the season, submerging two of last season’s playoff teams near the bottom of the Western Conference.
Los Angeles lost 10 of 12 during a skid that began in late December, while San Jose dropped six straight and eight of 10 in a post-Christmas malaise.
After a scoreless first period, Smyth finally scored for the Kings well past the midway point of the second. After slipping through San Jose’s defense during a rush, Smyth weaved a shot through traffic created by Stoll locked up with Dan Boyle, the Sharks’ All-Star defenseman.
Clowe evened it less than two minutes later with a brisk shot past Quick’s glove hand on an odd-man rush. The veteran power forward has missed San Jose’s past four games with an injured leg.
Setoguchi then put the Sharks ahead when Quick’s defense couldn’t control the young forward, whose backhander trickled out from underneath Quick’s pads. Los Angeles’ latest defensive lapse left Quick kneeling forward in frustration, touching his mask on the ice while the Sharks celebrated.
But Ponikarovsky evened it with his first goal since Dec. 18 on a backhand after defenseman Rob Scuderi made a slick play to keep the puck in the zone. Los Angeles flawlessly killed a 4-minute Sharks power play in the waning minutes.
NOTES: Niemi made his season-high fifth consecutive start while Antero Niittymaki is out with a lower-body injury. At least the Sharks had a professional goalie as their backup at Staples Center after using two amateurs— Vancouver college goalie Jordan White and 18-year-old OHL netminder J.P. Anderson—as Niemi’s backups in their past two games. Alex Stalock, who led the AHL in wins last season, was recalled from the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester to be Niemi’s backup. … Sharks C Scott Nichol served the third game of his four-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Phoenix D David Schlemko. Nichol can’t return until San Jose’s visit to Anaheim next Wednesday night