If the LA Kings fail to make the postseason, look no further than these games against the San Jose Sharks as the reason why.
Former LA Kings netminder Martin Jones loves playing against his old team, proven by his 17-5-3 career record against Los Angeles. Entering Friday night’s matchup, the 31-year-old was averaging 3.00 GAA over his last four games. However, he stopped all 30 shots against the Kings in San Jose’s 3-0 shutout win.
“It is a hot goaltender obviously, he’s playing really well against us,” Kings head coach Todd McLellan said in the postgame Zoom call. “We created chances; we had good looks.”
An already empty Staples Center felt even quieter after the Sharks took the lead just 2:57 into the opening period. Tomas Hertl notched his 11th goal of the year from the sideboards.
Los Angeles had a couple of point-blank opportunities, including two by Trevor Moore and one from Jaret Anderson-Dolan on an odd-man rush with Dustin Brown. Still, Todd McLellan’s group failed to light the lamp.
“When you get good looks, eventually, they’ve got to go in, and the players have to find ways to relax enough and make the right read and finish the opportunity that’s created,” McLellan added.
Timo Meier added an insurance goal, extending the Sharks lead to two at the nine-minute mark of the second period. McLellan challenged the goal for potential goalie interference, as Drew Doughty was pushed into Cal Petersen; however, the referees determined a good goal on the ice.
The Kings went to the powerplay for the first time in the game after Erik Karlsson was caught for high-sticking Trevor Moore. A close-up of Moore’s lip revealed blood was drawn, but only a two-minute minor as assessed.
On the evening, the LA Kings went 0-for-3 on the man advantage and have failed to score on the powerplay in their last 11 opportunities dating back to Monday’s game against the Golden Knights.
“When you play teams eight potentially 12 times in one season in five months, you’re going to get a pretty good idea what to do,” McLellan said of the Kings recent powerplay struggles. “It’s gonna get tougher to score powerplay goals down the stretch, simply because of that.”
San Jose added an empty netter with 27 seconds remaining in the game to put the proverbial nail in the coffin in Friday night’s game. The Kings are 1-3-1 against their rivals to the north this season, and Jones owns a .929 SV% and 2.45 GAA against his former squad.
The Sharks have now won three in a row and leapfrogged the Kings in the West Division standings. Todd McLellan’s group looks more and more like sellers approaching the trade deadline, sitting just six points out of last place in the division.
The Kings and Sharks will wrap up their two-game series on Saturday night with puck drop set for 7 pm PT.