SAN JOSE, Calif. – With one crushing shoulder check, Andrew Desjardins flattened Colin Fraser and delivered the play that helped give San Jose a much-needed win in regulation.
Matt Irwin and Logan Couture made Los Angeles pay for retaliating against Desjardins by scoring power-play goals after Jake Muzzin started a fight to help the Sharks snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.
“He turned the game totally around with that hit,” captain Joe Thornton said. “We executed on the power play. We love when he plays like that, and he just has to continue to play like that.”
Couture added a second goal, and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks, who earned just their third regulation win in 21 games. Antti Niemi made 16 of his 34 saves in the first period and was the beneficiary of San Jose’s highest scoring game since Jan. 27.
“We obviously needed all of them,” said coach Todd McLellan, who won his 207th game to break the franchise record set by Ron Wilson. “It’s nice to get four. A bit of a relief, a milestone for us, however you want to put it. Now we have to go and do it again on the road for the next 10 days.”
The Sharks begin a five-game trip on Saturday in Los Angeles before ending the season with 11 of 17 at home.
Dustin Brown scored twice and Dwight King added a goal for Los Angeles. Jonathan Quick was lifted after allowing three goals on 12 shots as the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings lost consecutive games for the first time in more than a month.
“Our goals against have to come down,” Brown said. “You look at why we were so successful last year, we weren’t scoring a lot of goals but we were winning games 1-0, 2-1. We really have to tighten up our D.”
The game turned midway through the second period after Desjardins knocked down Fraser with a legal shoulder check behind the Kings’ net.
Fraser called it a clean hit but Muzzin took exception and started a fight with Desjardins that led to the key power play when Muzzin got four extra minutes of penalties for instigating a fight while wearing a facemask.
“I’m not a fighter,” Muzzin said. “I didn’t like seeing my teammate get hit like that so I had to do something about it. I tried my best. I had to look after a teammate. A teammate is vulnerable like that—you don’t want them running around thinking they can do that all the time.”
Irwin capitalized for San Jose when he scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle, giving San Jose a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks scored again on the second power play when Couture blasted a shot from just inside the blue line off a blind pass from Joe Thornton for his 11th goal of the season. That led to the early exit for Quick, who also allowed five goals in a loss at Phoenix on Tuesday.
Jonathan Bernier kept the Kings in the game when he stopped Adam Burish on a partial breakaway with Los Angeles on the power play. That led directly to Brown’s 10th goal at the other end, cutting San Jose’s lead to 3-1.
Couture restored the three-goal lead in the opening minute of the third period after Burns caused a turnover to set up a 2-on-0 breakaway.
Brown added his second goal late in the third period, giving him 11 on the season. King scored on a rebound with 3:20 to play but Los Angeles couldn’t get the equalizer as Niemi stopped Jeff Carter and Justin Williams in the closing seconds.
“There was some anxiousness,” McLellan said. “You can tell we probably haven’t won on a consistent basis and we’re re-establishing some confidence.”
The Kings thoroughly dominated the first period but ended up on the short end of a 1-0 score when Burns got to a loose puck in front of the net and knocked it past Quick for his second goal in two games since moving from the blue line to forward.
Burns, a former forward in the minors, is excelling in his new role after being hampered by injuries for much of the season. The move was supposed to be temporary but Burns’ play might change those plans.
“He’s an animal out there,” Couture said. “He’s reckless, but in a good way. He really doesn’t have to think. He just goes in there and plays his game. He’s a big body, strong, skates well, shoots well. I enjoy playing with him.”
NOTES: Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter declined to talk to the media after the game. … The Sharks improved to 8-1-4 at home this season. … The Kings had gotten at least a point in their previous five games against San Jose. … Los Angeles last lost consecutive games on Feb. 7 and 10 at Nashville and Detroit.