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Kings are hardly intimidated

They are short-handed against the Sharks when it comes to Olympians but dominate play.

January 05, 2010|By Helene Elliott

From San Jose — Their world-class skills were undeniable and their newly minted Olympians were marvelous to watch.

Was it the San Jose Sharks and their eight -- count 'em, eight -- Vancouver-bound superstars putting on a show Monday at a packed HP Pavilion?

No. It was the Kings building up to a 6-2 rout that ended the Sharks' winning streak at eight games.

"We have a good team," Anze Kopitar said, perhaps the understatement of the night.

San Jose started an all-Olympic lineup of Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau of Canada up front, Canada's Dan Boyle and Sweden's Douglas Murray on defense and Russia's Evgeni Nabokov in goal. But the Kings' best players outdid the Sharks' best, and everyone else.

Jonathan Quick, selected to the U.S. Olympic team, made a career-best 45 saves on a career-high 47 shots and had a shutout until Murray scored on a power play at 3 minutes 21 seconds of the third period.

Defenseman Drew Doughty, considered a debatable Olympic pick by Canada because he's only 20, dispelled any remaining doubts by assisting on the Kings' first four goals, setting a career mark in points and assists in a game.

"Yeah, he's all right," Quick said of Doughty, making the Kings two for two in understatements to go with their three-for-five power-play success and four-for-five penalty-killing effort.

Doughty lifted his teammates to another plane as they won their third game in a row and inched up to seventh place in the West.

They scored five times on 16 shots against Nabokov and greeted backup Thomas Greiss -- a German Olympian -- with a goal on their first shot after a giveaway by former King Rob Blake.

"It was a pretty big game. We were sitting in eighth spot and we knew if we'd lost that game we might have been out of a playoff spot," Doughty said. "It was very important and we were focused before the game and determined to get a win."

The only downer for the Kings was losing defenseman Davis Drewiske to a shoulder injury in the first period. Coach Terry Murray said Drewiske will probably be out a while, but the Kings have become accustomed to adversity and have largely overcome it.

Their three power-play goals matched a season best they had accomplished twice before, but they were prouder of their penalty killing.

They neutralized an early disadvantage in the first period before scoring three times in the closing minutes. Slovakia Olympian Michal Handzus began the spree at 15:37, taking a pass from Rob Scuderi and wrapping the puck inside the right post to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games.

Thornton was sent off at 16:49 for slashing Doughty, and the Sharks paid for it. Doughty took a shot that broke Boyle's stick, and he had to drop it. Marleau tossed his stick to Boyle but Boyle fumbled it, leaving two Sharks without sticks. That allowed Handzus to feed Oscar Moller for a snap shot at 18:29.

Marleau got a penalty for throwing his stick and the Kings converted that advantage too, when Doughty took a pass from Jarret Stoll and skated into the right circle before rifling a superb pass to an unchecked Kopitar. He had the entire left side of the net to deposit the puck at 19:02.

The Sharks got an early power play in the second period when Parse was sent off for high sticking at 2:14 but Quick made two point-blank saves on Ryane Clowe by the right post and stopped a long shot by Blake.

"We came out confident and we killed off some of their power plays and we were able to capitalize on our power play," Kopitar said. "That's huge, as we all know."

The Kings scored twice more before the second period ended. Ryan Smyth scored on the power play at 16:28 after Doughty caught the puck in mid-air to keep it in the zone, dropped it to the ice and fed Kopitar, whose shot from the right circle was redirected by Smyth near the right post.

Only 14 seconds later, Wayne Simmonds scored his first goal in six games since having minor knee surgery, taking a pass from Brad Richardson and flicking it past Nabokov.

It wasn't a playoff game, but improving their record against the Sharks to 3-0-1 boosted the Kings' belief that they can make it to postseason play.

"We've just got to focus on taking that same mentality and applying it to every game, it doesn't matter who's playing," Quick said.

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