The San Jose Sharks had just enough to stay perfect.
Lukas Kaspar scored his first NHL goal and Brian Boucher made 21 saves to lead the Sharks to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.
Kaspar whisked a wrist shot from the right circle past Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera midway through the second period to help the Sharks continue their flawless start (3-0).
“I just wanted to put it on his far side and then it went post and in,” said Kaspar who was playing in just his sixth game. “I didn’t even see it to tell you the truth. I was looking around and I didn’t see the puck then I see the referees pointing at the net so I was happy.”
San Jose took a 4-1 opening-night victory over the Anaheim Ducks Thursday and a 3-1 win over the Kings in the first game of a home-and-home series Saturday.
After generating 41 shots on goal in both of those contests, the Sharks managed to create little offence (19 shots) Sunday, but the team’s defence continues to be highly stingy.
Boucher was making his first start of the season for San Jose. He won all three of his starts last season after being signed as a free agent in late February.
“I’m really, really happy for Boucher,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan who has quickly found success in his first year with the team. “He probably didn’t have the pre-season that he’d like, he’d probably admit that. Coming in behind (Evgeni Nabokov) you never know when you’re going to get your starts. Bouche stepped up and he was probably our best player tonight and you need that when you’re playing ugly so we’re real proud of him.”
Rob Blake returned to play in Los Angeles for the first time since signing with San Jose as a free agent this summer and was greeted with boos whenever he touched the puck. Blake skated for the Kings in 14 of his 19 NHL seasons — including the last two — and is the franchise leader in games played by a defenceman.
“It’s been like that over the years, it’s not the first time, I did it with Colorado. It’s not a problem,” said Blake who was impressed with his former team. “They’re going to be a good young team, they have a lot of kids coming along.”
After Kaspar gave the Sharks the lead off a feed from Patrick Marleau, the Kings had two potential second-period goals waived off.
With Kaspar serving a hooking penalty, Kings defenceman Tom Preissing sent a slap shot from the left point past Boucher, but the goal was waived off because of a crease violation.
Minutes later, Los Angeles forward Matt Moulson followed up on his own shot, crashing the net and colliding with Boucher as the puck skittered in. But after lengthy replay review it was ruled Moulson had directed the puck in with a distinct kicking motion.
Forward Alexander Frolov also had a partial breakaway in the third period but could not swipe a backhand shot past Boucher.
“I really liked the way we played, especially in the second half of the game,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “The third period was tremendous. We started to see something I hadn’t seen yet, (they’re) starting to work hard for teammates.”
After generating just 13 shots in the season opener Saturday, the Kings offence did seem to improve with the addition of forward Patrick O’Sullivan who played his first game after signing a three-year, US$8.775 million contract on Tuesday. The 23-year-old was fourth on the team in scoring last season (22 goals, 31 assists).
“It felt like I hadn’t played a game in four or five months, but felt better as the game went on,” said O’Sullivan, who missed all the pre-season while the new deal was being negotiated. “I’m glad to get that first game out of the way and live past the fact that I missed training camp. There’s definitely some positives and I have a lot to improve upon, but it’s definitely something I can develop.”
While O’Sullivan returned, Kings defenceman Jack Johnson suffered an “upper extremity” injury in the first period and left the game after skating one shift in the second period.
The Sharks improved to 7-0 against Los Angeles when they hold centre Anze Kopitar without a point. Kopitar signed a seven-year $47.6 million extension with the Kings on Saturday but he showed plenty of frustration Sunday. The third-year pro was assessed a 10-minute misconduct after he smashing his stick on the Kings bench in the middle period.
Notes: F Brian Bolyle also made his season debut for Los Angeles. … The Kings will play 12 of their next 16 games at home. … San Jose D Alexei Semenov moved into the lineup in place of Brad Lukowich.