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Sharks

Thornton Leads Sharks Past Kings In Shootout

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Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center on October 3, 2013 in San Jose. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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SAN JOSE (CBS / AP) — Joe Thornton scored his first shootout goal since 2007 in the eighth round and the San Jose Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Wednesday night to extend the home-team dominance in this California rivalry.

Thornton and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Sharks, who have won nine straight at home against the Kings including the postseason. In all, the home team has won the last 14 matchups, including all seven in last spring’s playoff series won by Los Angeles.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty scored for the Kings, who tied a franchise record by earning a point in their 11th straight game. They also did that in 1973-74 and 2010-11.

Ben Scrivens made 38 saves.

After each team scored three times in the first seven rounds, Thornton got his first shootout attempt since the 2009-10 season and stuffed a backhand past Scrivens. It was his first shootout goal since Dec. 16 2007, against Anaheim.

Antti Niemi then stopped Tyler Toffoli to seal it. Niemi made 38 saves as San Jose opened a difficult stretch of three games in four days against top-five teams with a win.

The game was played with the high intensity expected from two fierce rivals with a recent playoff history who are at the top of their games. These teams have met twice in the past three postseasons, with each winning once, including Los Angeles’ triumph in the second round last spring.

Each benefited from a fluky goal, with San Jose taking a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Thornton took the puck from Willie Mitchell behind the net and then Scrivens kicked in a loose puck.

The Kings got the fortunate bounce early in the third to tie the game when Doughty’s centering pass hit defenseman Scott Hannan’s skate and deflected past Niemi for the equalizer.

Los Angeles then killed off three successive minor penalties in a span of less than 7 minutes to preserve the tie and set the stage for the dramatic finish.

The Kings jumped on top early when Dwight King knocked down Tomas Hertl on the opening shift and played a pass off the end boards to Carter, who banged it past Niemi just 18 seconds into the game.

Niemi prevented Los Angeles from adding to that lead when he stopped Mike Richards’ backhand attempt on a 2-on-0 break after Richards stole the puck from Dan Boyle.

The Sharks then dominated the second half of the period, but Scrivens stopped all 18 shots in the first to preserve a 1-0 lead.

Pavelski tied it early in the second when he got to a loose puck in the slot and lifted it over Scrivens for his ninth of the season.

Los Angeles failed to capitalize on a 4-minute power play when Boyle was called for high-sticking Justin Williams. Despite near constant pressure, Niemi stopped all six shots during the double minor to the delight of a sellout crowd that chanted “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!” throughout the night.

NOTES: The Kings went 0 for 4 on the power play and have converted just three of their last 35 chances. … Thornton moved into sole possession of 50th place on the career points list with 1,143. … D Matt Irwin returned to the lineup for San Jose after being a healthy scratch for six straight games. Jason Demers sat out.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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