LOS ANGELES – The San Jose Sharks lost a hockey game, but still won a trophy.
Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves as the Los Angeles Kings finished their season with a 4-3 win over the Sharks, who managed to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy anyway on Saturday.
San Jose secured the top record in the NHL (53-18-11) for the first time in club history when the Boston Bruins lost 6-1 at Buffalo earlier in the day.
Michal Handzus, Alexander Frolov and Peter Harold also scored for the Kings (34-37-11), who didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau had goals for San Jose, which wrapped up the regular season and will be the top-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs.
“It feels good, that’s what we worked for all year,” Sharks forward Milan Michalek said. “Now we have to forget about it and start getting ready for the playoffs.”
Despite securing the best record in the league, the Sharks are stumbling into the post-season. They also lost 4-1 at home against Phoenix on Thursday and needed a shootout to beat last-place Colorado 1-0 on Tuesday.
“It’s certainly not the way you want to finish your season with two losses,” defenceman Dan Boyle said. “Both games I think there have been some good things and we’ll try and focus on that. Without a doubt there has been a lot of mistakes and turnovers and key defensive mistakes.”
The Kings were able to gain some solace in winning their season finale. They had lost five prior games to San Jose this season (0-3-2), while being outscored 13-6.
“If you’re not going to make the playoffs, you want to go out with a win,” Kings defenceman Matt Greene said. “You try to end the season on a positive note as much as you can. I think we did that. We went out and got a big win and played well.”
Los Angeles reversed its earlier struggles against San Jose largely because of Quick, who faced the Sharks for the first time. The rookie from Connecticut emerged as the Kings’ top goalie while playing in 44 of Los Angeles’ final 51 games. He was especially sharp over the final weeks, posting a .938 save percentage in the last 10 games.
“Quick has played tremendous for us,” said Terry Murray, who completed his first season as Kings coach. “Every game he has given us the opportunity to win.”
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead when Setoguchi corralled a rebound during a power play and swiped the puck around Quick just 5:41 into the game.
Handzus tied it, with an assist from Simmonds, when he ripped a shot from the left circle that deflected off Sharks defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and past goalie Evgeni Nabokov at 10:42.
Frolov then whisked around from behind the net and put a backhanded wraparound under Nabokov to make it 2-1 just over four minutes later.
The Kings pushed their advantage to two goals in the second as Simmonds sent a 40-foot wrist shot by Nabokov during a power play at 4:28.
“We played hard today and played for each other, it showed,” said Simmonds, who had five points (three goals, two assists) in the final four games of his rookie season.
San Jose got within 3-2 later in the second as Pavelski tipped in a shot by Vlasic during a power play.
Vlasic earned his 30th assist of the season, making the Sharks the fourth team in NHL history to have four defenceman who had at least 30 assists. Dan Boyle (41), Rob Blake (35) and Christian Ehrhoff (34) had already reached the mark.
Harold and Marleau matched goals in the third.
Notes: Sharks forwards Jonathan Cheechoo (lower body) and Jeremy Roenick (healthy) sat out. … Frolov’s goal was his 149th with the Kings, the fifth most among right wingers in franchise history. Ziggy Palffy is fourth with 150. … Blake played in his 1,200th NHL game, while Boyle skated in his 600th. … Kings players voted D Sean O’Donnell as their most inspirational teammate. Los Angeles media members voted captain Dustin Brown as the team’s most valuable player.