SAN JOSE — The coach, direct as always, said he hated himself for having to pull goalies during a game, knowing that such a move could be viewed as a bright, shining light of indictment.
Unfortunately, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has had to hate himself two more times since he talked about the care and handling of goalies six weeks ago.
Sutter yanked starter Jonathan Quick at 8:34 of the second period after the Sharks broke out and established a 3-0 lead. He replaced him with Jonathan Bernier. The early deficit, however, was too much as the struggling Sharks fought off a late charge, beating the Kings, 4-3, on Thursday night at HP Pavilion.
For the Sharks, Logan Couture scored twice, once on the power play, and added an assist. Defenseman-turned-forward Brent Burns scored once and assisted on Couture's second goal, which made it 4-1 just 27 seconds into the third period.
For the Kings, captain Dustin Brown scored two goals; hehas five in his last three games. Dwight King, scored on a rebound with 3:20 remaining, beating San Jose goalie Antti Niemi to make it tense in the final minutes. Forward Justin Williams assisted on the Brown goals.
"The last three games we've lost, we've given up four or five goals," Brown said. "We've got to clean up our D zone. Trying to climb out of 4-0, 4-1, whatever, it's not an easy thing to do. Our goals against has got to come down.
"You look at why we were successful last year. We weren't scoring a lot of goals but we were winning games, 1-0 and 2-1."
The Kings have dropped back-to-back road games after a mini-revival with two wins at home against the Flames in the span of three days.
This one turned in the second period when the Sharks scored two power-play goals in the span of 1 minute 27 seconds. Sharks center Andrew Desjardins leveled the Kings' Colin Fraser with a check behind the net, and Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin came to the defense of his teammate, fighting Desjardins.
San Jose went on a four-minute power play when Muzzin received minors for unsportsmanlike conduct (instigating) and instigating with a visor. Defenseman Matt Irwin scored from the left circle to make it 2-0, at 7:07. Couture struck at 8:34 to end Quick's night.
Muzzin explained what happened, but not before offering a good wry line: "I'm not a fighter."
Still, instinct sometimes takes over.
"I didn't like seeing my teammate get hit like that," he said. "So I thought I'd do something about it. So I stepped in and tried my best. Look, after a teammate is vulnerable like that, you don't want them running around thinking they can do that all the time."
Quick gave up three goals on 12 shots. Bernier gave up one goal — in the third period — but could hardly be faulted when the Sharks converted on a two-on-none, finished off by Couture. It came after a series of King miscues.
Certainly, momentum is fleeting in a 48-game season. And all traditional bets are off when it comes to the shortened schedule. Sutter should have attached an asterisk next to his early February statement, saying that he didn't believe in pulling goalies.
* Except in compressed schedules forced by the lockout.
Sutter likes to say, "right?" near the end of many of his statements. But little has gone right after the Kings seemed to stabilize on Monday. Maybe by next Monday it will change all over again.
Alec Martinez, who was a healthy scratch in Phoenix, returned to the lineup. The Kings scratches were forwards Brad Richardson and Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Davis Drewiske.