LOS ANGELES (AP) — To celebrate their 50th NHL season, the Los Angeles Kings honored the goal scorers from the “Miracle on Manchester” playoff comeback prior to their game Saturday.
On this night, though, the Kings didn’t need a five-goal rally in the third period. They saw to that with a desperate early effort.
Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Tanner Pearson each scored a goal, and the Kings returned home to defeat the San Jose Sharks 3-2.
“We just needed a big two points,” Pearson said. “Division game, four points were on the line. It was a big game overall and not just because it was San Jose. We need to win right now.”
Peter Budaj make 18 saves and Alec Martinez had two assists, helping break the Sharks’ four-game winning streak. The Kings ended a three-game skid by breaking out of an offensive funk that sunk their nine-game road trip.
Brent Burns scored his 15th goal of the season, Kevin Labanc added a goal and Martin Jones stopped 24 shots for the Sharks, who had won the first two games in the season series by allowing just two goals.
Jumping all over the Pacific Division leaders from the opening faceoff, the Kings went in front 1-0 on Pearson’s goal 4:17 into the first period. Pearson’s ninth goal of the season was a sniper shot from between the circles into the top right corner of the net.
Jones faced down a 13-6 shot disparity in the first period, as San Jose lost for only the second time in its last 10 games. The Kings kept the Sharks pinned in their own end for the better part of the first four minutes, a stretch broken up only by a fight between Kyle Clifford and Sharks center Micheal Haley that left Haley with a cut on his right knuckle.
“We know where they are in the standings so we knew they were going to be hungry and come out hard,” Jones said. “That was the difference in the game. They were hungrier and they won a few more battles.”
Doughty capitalized on the power play after Burns tripped center Anze Kopitar 32 seconds into the second period. Doughty unloaded from the edge of the near circle, beating his former LA teammate over the right shoulder for his sixth goal and second on the power play to make it 2-0.
“We just tried to get a step ahead and that’s what we did,” Budaj said. “It was a very good start. We didn’t give up much, but they are a very dangerous team and don’t need much to make it interesting and they did.”
After Burns scored a power-play goal 12 seconds into the third period, Carter responded with his team-leading 20th goal. Carter and Devin Setoguchi had a 2-on-1 break, but Carter held onto the puck all the way and buried a wrist shot to restore a two-goal advantage at 3-1.
Labanc scored with 6:03 remaining to pull within 3-2, but the Sharks could not find an equalizer.
“I thought as the game wore on we got our legs going a little bit, but you’ve got to do a little more than that to win a game like this,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.
Los Angeles has now earned a point in 12 of 16 games at Staples Center this season.
“It was nice to be home,” Pearson said. “Everyone in the league takes pride in their home ice and we got to be there, too.”
NOTES: The Kings honored Daryl Evans, Steve Bozek, Mark Hardy, Charlie Simmer, Doug Smith and Jay Wells for their role in Los Angeles’ comeback victory against the Oilers in Game 3 of a first-round series in 1982. … Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not play after being hit in the face by a puck during Friday’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia. The Sharks also scratched C Tommy Wingels and LW Matt Nieto. … The Kings scratched D Matt Greene, D Tom Gilbert and C Andy Andreoff.
The Sharks and Kings play again at San Jose on Tuesday night.