Kopitar, Kings start and finish strong to pummel Sharks 6-2
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings finally got the fast start they had been waiting for. And the finish wasn’t bad, either.
Anze Kopitar, Carl Grundstrom and Jaret Anderson-Dolan each had a goal and an assist to help the Kings beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Thursday night and snap a five-game losing streak.
“I can’t remember doing that in a long time,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of the four-goal cushion. “We’re so accustomed to playing one-goal games that you don’t get the freedom to play out a lot of nights, but we earned the opportunity to do it tonight.”
Alex Iafallo and Jeff Carter added power-play goals, Drew Doughty had three assists and Cal Petersen made 28 saves for the Kings.
Tomas Hertl scored twice and Martin Jones stopped 20 shots before being pulled in the third period for the Sharks.
It was the final game of a 12-game road trip to start the season for San Jose because of COVID-19 restrictions limiting contact sports in Santa Clara County, California.
“Tonight just wasn’t good enough and that didn’t have anything with being on the road,” Sharks center Logan Couture said.
Reversing a trend of poor starts this season, Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in the first period. Kopitar gave the Kings the lead 2:47 into the game, tucking a wrist shot under the crossbar from the left dot on the power play.
Grundstrom positioned himself alone in front of the crease and tipped Anderson-Dolan’s shot in at 9:25 to make it 2-0.
The Kings went up 3-0 at 12:42 when Austin Wagner came out of the penalty box to score on a breakaway.
Having allowed the opening goal in 10 of their first 12 games, Doughty said the Kings were focused on being ready as soon as the puck was dropped.
“The coaches put a lot of attention on that first shift because we gave one up on the first shift last game, so we wanted to have a good start,” Doughty said. “And after we did have that first good shift, the lines just kept rolling and rolling over. And we kept them hemmed in their own zone a few times and got a three-goal lead, I believe, in the first, so it was all good.”
Hertl got the Sharks on the board at 16:25 to cut the deficit to 3-1, and he made it 3-2 at 17:49 of the second period.
But the Kings got goals from Anderson-Dolan, Iafallo and Carter in a span of 2:05 of the third period to pull away, prompting Sharks coach Bob Boughner to pull Jones.
“We’re not expecting him to win hockey games for us standing on his head,” Boughner said. “But we’ve got to have solid goaltending, especially at the beginning of games. It’s just not up to our standard and I’m sure it’s not up to his own.”
Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk is day to day because of a lower-body injury. Dubnyk, who is 0-3-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in six appearances this season, last played against Anaheim on Saturday.
Alexei Melnichuk was Jones’ backup against the Kings, making five saves in relief.
PLENTY OF POTENTIAL
Tobias Bjornfot made a clever stretch pass to set up Wagner’s goal, and the assist was the first career point for the rookie defenseman drafted in the first round in 2019.
“We know how good Toby is and how good he’s going to be,” Doughty said. “I think he’s still so young and he looks like he’s been out there for a long time too, so the sky’s the limit for that kid.”
Sharks: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday in their home opener.
Kings: Scheduled to host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, but that game is unlikely to be played as scheduled. The first game of the two-game set on Saturday has already been postponed, with 11 Minnesota players in COVID-19 protocol as of Thursday.
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