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    Struggling Kings salvage a point but fall to Sharks in shootout
    • January 23, 2024

    LOS ANGELES — With a chance to establish a winning record at home for the first time this season, the Kings fell flat against a team they have dominated.

    Fighting off a two-goal deficit against the San Jose Sharks, a late equalizer by Drew Doughty sent the game to overtime before the Kings came up short in a shootout for a 4-3 loss on Monday night at Arena. While they salvaged a point against the last-place team in the NHL, it was the Kings’ 11th loss in the past 13 games.

    Sharks captain Logan Couture joined Fabian Zetterland with shootout conversions against Kings goalkeeper David Rittich, while both Trevor Moore and Adrian Kempe were denied by Finnish netminder Kaapo Kahkonen.

    Zetterland opened the scoring in the second period. Fellow Swede William Eklund then added to the tally, putting the Kings in a hole they struggled to dig themselves out of.

    The Kings (22-13-9, 53 points) drew one back before the second intermission on Trevor Moore’s team-leading 21st goal of the season, and they added a pair in the final 20 minutes, Quinton Byfield before Doughty, offsetting the Sharks’ third goal courtesy of Justin Bailey.

    “You should be able to win a game scoring three right now, and we weren’t able to do that tonight,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “The last two goals against were very preventable.”

    The late-game drama materialized due to the Kings’ early listlessness following a strong performance on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

    After the first intermission, the Sharks (12-31-4, 28 points) made the Kings pay for mismanaged chances.

    On a delayed penalty call, Zetterlund jumped on a blocked shot in the slot, whacking the puck past Rittich for his 14th goal at 7:46.

    San Jose got to Rittich again less than two minutes later. Going the length of the ice in a blink, center Nico Sturm dished the puck to Eklund, who snapped it from the left circle across the goalie’s glove side for his eighth goal of the year at 9:08.

    Moore seemed to resuscitate the Kings as the second period neared its conclusion.

    Off Kevin Fiala’s 29th assist, the 28-year-old Thousand Oaks native got on the puck at the blue line, charged down the right side and snapped a beauty of a shot into the upper corner near the far post at 17:06.

    Halving their deficit gave the Kings something to feel positive about heading into the third, and that was evident when the teams returned to the ice.

    One game after heading to the third line to play center, Byfield found himself back on the wing alongside Anze Kopitar and Kempe, who were disconnected and ineffective playing with Pierre-Luc Dubois through two periods.

    “I didn’t think they had a lot going,” McLellan said. “I thought they needed a little more energy.”

    Holding the puck in the Sharks’ end, Byfield extended play as the refurbished first line searched for an equalizer. By the time the puck was cycled around, the talented 21-year-old Canadian, parked directly in front of the San Jose net, made the most of a nifty assist from Kempe 93 seconds into the third period for his 14th goal of the season.

    Whatever momentum the Kings generated during the course of their comeback was stymied by the Sharks at 6:17, when the visitors rushed down the ice and Bailey netted his third of the season between Rittich’s legs.

    Despite his strong effort, a misplayed clearance from Kahkonen sent the puck into the stands, prompting a delay of game that gave Doughty a chance to send it to overtime.

    The defenseman’s 11th goal of the year, off assists from Fiala and Byfield, came when he buried a slap shot that rippled the net high on Kahkonen’s glove side with 1:58 left in regulation.

    Neither team found a game-winner in overtime, leading to the deciding shootout.

    Kahkonen denied Moore and Kempe, while Sharks captain Logan Couture, who made his season debut on Saturday after missing 45 games with a lower-body injury, and Zetterlund, the evening’s initial goal scorer, bested Rittich twice on his glove side.

    Kahkonen had 44 saves, while Rittich had 27.

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    The Kings, now 1-5 in shootouts, saw their franchise-record six-game winning streak against the Sharks come to an end and Rittich snapped his stick in frustration.

    The Kings are 8-8-6 at home (2-7-4 in their last 13 games) with one more date on Wednesday night before a three-game road trip leading into the NHL All-Star break.

    “I wouldn’t say the season is slipping away but I would say there’s concern and some frustration,” McLellan said. “Definitely frustration.”


    Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro did not return after he was hurt on a hit into the boards by Kings center Trevor Lewis late in the second. Ferraro tried to take a warmup lap before the start of the third but immediately went back to the dressing room. … Kings defenseman Matt Roy was a late scratch after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child earlier on Monday. … The Kings host the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

    ​ Orange County Register