SAN JOSE, Calif. – The way the Los Angeles Kings have been struggling to score goals, they were fortunate one was enough to snap their five-game losing streak.
Anze Kopitar broke Los Angeles’ long scoreless drought and Jonathan Quick earned his third shutout of the season to help the Kings snap their skid with a 1-0 victory Monday night over the San Jose Sharks.
“We needed a win like this to break out of the slump,” Kopitar said. “Quickie was obviously solid back there and gave us a chance to win. I guess one was enough.”
Kopitar’s goal late in the second period ended a stretch of more than 154 minutes without a score for the Kings, who avoided their first six-game skid since December 2007.
They did it with defence as Quick needed to make only 23 saves, including a sprawling glove save early against Bracken Kearns and then a body save on Dan Boyle just before the final buzzer to seal the win.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Quick said. “They’re a great team in their own building. We got the two points. Now we’re going to move on and forget about it.”
The game ended a streak of 15 straight games between the California rivals that were won by the home team, including all seven contests in last year’s second-round playoff series won by the Kings. Los Angeles had dropped nine straight in San Jose since winning Game 5 of a first-round series in 2011 and had not won a regular season game here since Dec. 27, 2010.
Alex Stalock made 20 saves for the Sharks, who had won six straight games. But he got little offensive help as San Jose got just nine shots the first two periods and came up empty on three power plays to lose at home in regulation for just the third time all season.
“We’ve played them enough over the last couple years to know it’s defence-first on both teams and scoring’s going to be hard to come by,” captain Joe Thornton said. “You saw it tonight and in our previous games and even in the post-season, every game’s a one-goal game and they usually end 1-0 or 2-1.”
The Kings broke their scoreless drought late in the second period on a nifty move by Kopitar.
Brent Burns deflected a pass from Jeff Carter to a streaking Kopitar. But Kopitar still managed to gather it and stopped just outside the crease to make Stalock commit before tucking it into the net to give Los Angeles the lead with 2:05 remaining in the second period.
“I had the poke check out before the pass even got knocked down,” Stalock said. “With the puck getting knocked down he was kind of able to stop and slow everything down so I was caught with it out there.”
The goal was the first for Los Angeles since Kopitar scored early in the first period of a 2-1 loss at Anaheim last Thursday night, ending a scoreless stretch of 154:43. It also ended Stalock’s franchise-record scoreless streak at 178:55 for San Jose.
The Sharks, limited to seven shots at that point, generated more pressure after falling behind with Quick making a good save against Kearns and San Jose drawing a late penalty against Willie Mitchell. But the Kings killed off that penalty that carried over into the third period.
They negated another power play when Thornton was called for hooking 16 seconds into Slava Voynov’s cross-checking penalty and then were helped by a double-minor on San Jose’s Joe Pavelski and strong play from Quick to seal it.
It was a typical tight defensive start to the game between two of the league’s stingiest teams with a combined 12 shots in a scoreless first period.
While the Sharks had a season-low four shots in the period, they did have the best scoring chance when Quick made a sprawling glove save to rob Kearns on the backhand early with most of the net open.
“We don’t score many goals. So you got to make big saves and you got to limit the other team, and you got to bear down on opportunities at the end of the night,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “This is a tough building to come into and get one point, let alone two. You can say you worked hard and get nothing.”
NOTES: The Sharks lost their second 1-0 home game this month, falling to Boston on Jan. 11. … Stalock broke the record held by Evgeni Nabokov, who went 171:18 without allowing a goal in January 2009. … Kings captain Dustin Brown was booed all night in his first game against San Jose since injuring rookie Tomas Hertl with a knee-on-knee collision last month.