The Los Angeles Kings avenged the 2015-16 NHL season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks with a 4-1 win Thursday, Oct. 22. Both Pacific Division rivals are clearly headed in opposite directions.
The Kings had a clean sweep of atombash.com’s pictured stars of the game in securing a third consecutive win after three regulation losses to start the 2015-16 NHL season. The Sharks started off winning their first four and have now lost three in regulation.
There is no denying that San Jose misses its injured skaters. It is a small sample size but so stark a difference as to be undeniable.
The Sharks scored 12 goals in the three games with Logan Couture and just five in four games without him. They allowed just two goals in four games with Paul Martin and 14 in three games without him.
It does not take an expert NHL analyst to know that not scoring while giving up lots of goals is bad. Play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn reported that Martin was back on the ice skating with teammates, but Couture will not be back for a few weeks.
San Jose has to find a way to overcome two injuries to core players not even atop their units and two that barely made the team (Joonas Donskoi and Ben Smith). There will be many points in the 2015-16 NHL season that both of those things will happen at the same time.
The event summary shows that the Sharks competed in this game: 41-32 faceoffs, 14-10 giveaways, 8-5 takeaways, 20-20 hits, 63-60 attempts, 40-29 shots and 18-13 blocks is about as well-rounded a game as one can expect. The problem was they have fewer second-chance opportunities and did not have enough skill to unleash a shot that would get past Jhonas Enroth.
When consecutive backup goalies making their 2015-16 NHL season debut with a new team turn away over 60 shots and allow one over both games between them, it would not be wise to assume shooters just fought bad breaks and hot goaltending. San Jose is going to have to find someone to light the lamp until it has a full complement of forwards.
By the time that happened Thursday, Los Angeles almost had the game put away. Jeff Carter got rewarded for his faceoff win with his first of four points on a secondary assist when Alec Martinez found Tyler Toffoli deep in the zone for the highlight-reel goal dancing around Brent Burns and sneaking the puck behind Martin Jones 11:37 into the game.
The Kings added to their lead in the final half minute of the frame. Carter drew a penalty on Tommy Wingels and then again earned the secondary assist after winning a faceoff. Former draft pick Christian Ehrhoff stuck the Sharks with a shot from the point that Milan Lucic deflected past Jones.
In the opening four minutes after intermission, Carter decided to score the next goal himself. Drew Doughty got him the puck and he flew up the right wing before snapping a five-hole shot in from the circle.
San Jose captain Joe Pavelski got the puck behind the net from Brenden Dillon and fed Joel Ward on the open side for a strong backhand in the final five minutes of the second period, but a Los Angeles power play led to an expanded lead. Carter found a way to outdo himself just past the midpoint of the third.
After winning a faceoff, Carter recovered the puck and shot it wide of the net. Not surprisingly given the night he had, it caromed off the back boards, hit the leg of Jones and ricocheted in.
Sometimes a player just takes over a game. Sometimes a goalie just has your number. Those things should not both happen, and certainly not in consecutive games. This is something that needs to be fixed for the Sharks to have a successful 2015-16 NHL season.