SAN JOSE, Calif. – As soon as the Los Angeles Kings found a way to get one puck past Antti Niemi, they kept just kept going.
Trevor Lewis broke up a scoreless game early in the third period and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for his fourth shutout this season, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.
“We had a lot of great chances in the first and second but nothing was going in,” said Brad Richardson, who set up the first goal. “We stuck with it and that’s always a good thing. Sometimes it can go the other way, you get a lot of chances and they end up scoring. But Quicky was great. We got that first one and kind of went from there.”
Dustin Brown scored twice and former San Jose forward Marco Sturm also scored in the third as the Kings broke open a close game to snap a three-game losing streak to San Jose.
The Sharks looked sluggish in their first game following a three-day Christmas break, taking more than 12 minutes to put a single shot on net and eventually having their season-long four-game winning streak snapped. They had few good chances all night, with perhaps the best coming on Patrick Marleau’s short-handed breakaway that Quick stopped midway through the third.
“I’m just embarrassed,” defenceman Dan Boyle said. “It was a terrible effort. There were a lot of line changes and faceoffs where things could happen. It was just effort. A lot of us took the night off and against a team as good as that, it can’t happen.”
The Kings were already solidly in control by then, on the way to their ninth win in 12 games. They used another big third period to prolong this run, having outscored the opposition 16-4 in the third during this span.
After being held scoreless on 30 shots through two periods against Niemi, the Kings finally broke through with four goals on seven shots in the third to complete a back-to-back sweep of their California rivals after beating Anaheim at home Sunday.
The first goal was started by Richardson, who had the puck near the boards when Jamie McGinn came in and tried to knock it loose. Richardson came out of a collision with McGinn and Sharks defender Jason Demers and got the puck in front to Lewis, who lifted it over Niemi to make it 1-0.
Just over a minute later, Sturm came skating into the San Jose zone and sent a soft shot on net that trickled through Niemi’s pads to make it 2-0. It was Sturm’s first goal in four games with the Kings. Brown then added a rebound goal about three minutes later.
“We were peppering him all night,” Brown said. “He was making some big saves through traffic. When you get that many shots and you’re testing a goalie that often, when we got that first goal, maybe it broke his will a little bit.”
The prettiest goal was the last one, coming on a 4-on-4 situation. Anze Kopitar, who had three assists, flipped a backhand pass over defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Brown outraced Dany Heatley to the puck and beat Niemi with a backhander to put the game away.
“I’ve only seen that play connect one time before ever,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “It was a pretty creative move. Actually, just to relieve some pressure it’s the right kind of look to make, to get it over the top, the old moon shot, and then you just hope that maybe something happens off of it.”
The Kings thoroughly dominated the opening period but were unable to get the puck past Niemi as the game remained scoreless. Niemi stopped Wayne Simmonds in alone in front of the net in the opening minute. He later robbed Brown from in close midway through the period and stopped Justin Williams on a 2-on-1.
Los Angeles had the first 10 shots of the game as the Sharks didn’t even get a puck on net until Boyle’s shot from inside the point more than 12 minutes into the first period.
Los Angeles had a 15-1 edge in shots at one point before San Jose put some pressure on Quick late in the period. Quick made a tough save against Devin Setoguchi late in the period and then helped kill off a power play that went into the second.
“There has to be a complete turnaround,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “There’s nothing from this game we can take and say ‘keep doing that.’ We were outworked, outhustled, outmuscled and outcommitted. It was pretty obvious one team came to play and another team came to see what would happen. I knew we weren’t going to be perfect, but I expected to be a lot more competitive.”
Notes: Quick has 12 career shutouts. … Sharks F Torry Mitchell missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Los Angeles F Alexei Ponikarovsky sat out with a lower-body injury.