Around the NHL: Sharks start season strong, rout Kings in LA

The San Jose Sharks got a hot start to the 2015-16 NHL season in the strongest way with a 5-1 victory on the road over their in-state rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, on Wednesday at Staples Center.

“I think the game tonight was a culmination of a month of hard work,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. “We showed up at camp and really worked and paid attention to detail and the guys were a captive audience. Tonight we played like we’re going to have to play, four lines, six defensemen, great goaltending, great special teams. It’s nice, we just have to keep replicating the game.

“That’s something that we’ve been talking about since day one of training camp that we want to be a tougher team to play against five-on-five, hold on to the puck a bit more, put a little more pressure on the other team,” he said. “Tonight we did a good job. We’ve got a long road ahead of us obviously, but it’s nice to get a win. It’s nice to see the rewards of a month of work out on the ice tonight.”

“We played against a big, fast team,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said, “and we didn’t play like a big, fast team.”

The Kings drew first blood on Wednesday with a goal by Nick Shore in the 1:49 minute mark of the first period — the second fastest scored goal in Kings home opener history — but that was all they could do in 20 shots-on-goal.

“We had the plays there, but today we just seemed to not connect on some simple outs and that eliminated our traditional game and defeated the offense,” Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said.

“It was definitely not the game that we drew up and our special teams were not good, we just talked about them but we didn’t execute them, we didn’t play the way we should,” Kings forward Anze Kopitar sad. “It was very sloppy.”

 “We’ve got to check,” Sutter said. “If you don’t check you can’t score”

The Sharks took 32 shots-on-goal and had a substantial amount of puck control throughout the game. Joe Pavelski made two assists and was among the five different Sharks to score a goal in his first game as captain.

“We just controlled it well,” Pavelski said. “We put it in good spots all night where we had good chance to get back or good chances to get on the forecheck and create that pressure. It’s game one. Great job by the guys and there’s a lot of good things that we can take from it.”

After the initial hiccup in the first period, Sharks goalie Martin Jones recovered well and pitched a near shutout the rest of the way.

“It was exciting,” Jones said. “I waited a long time for that game and we got a good result. I’ve been scored on before. It’s obviously not the way you want to start a game but I thought we showed a lot of character as a group by not letting that spiral. It could have easily done that, but I thought we did a great job coming back from that.”

The Sharks will host the Anaheim Ducks next while the Kings will host the Arizona Coyotes. As frustrating and embarrassing their home opening loss was, the Kings are hoping they can learn from the past and make up for it to the home fans with a win over the Coyotes on Friday.

“We have to up our level of play for next game,” Ehrhoff said. “We have to stay out of the box, myself and the team as a whole, it’s way too many penalties against us.”

“Definitely not the way we wanted to start off the season,” Kopitar said. “We’re going to have to correct them and play better in a lot of areas.”


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