Kings 4, San Jose Sharks 0
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: The Kings outplayed the Sharks through the first two periods at HP Pavilion in San Jose, but the scoreboard didn’t tilt their way until the third, when they produced a four-goal period for the second consecutive night, allowing goalkeeper Jonathan Quick to earn his third shutout in his last six starts.
THE STAT: The Kings improved to 9-2-1 for the month of December, matching the most wins for this month in club history. If they can win their final two games, they’d equal the most wins for any month in franchise history.
TURNING POINT: The fourth line came through in a big way early in the third period. With the game still scoreless, Brad Richardson was sandwiched between Jamie McGinn and Jason Demers and crumbled to the ice near the left-wing boards. He sprung to his feet as linemate Kevin Westgarth stepped in and boxed out both Sharks, giving Richardson space to skate toward the San Jose goal and slide a pass to Trevor Lewis, who beat goalie Antti Niemi with his team’s 31st shot of the game.
HOT: Dustin Brown had two more goals for the Kings, giving him 19 points in the last 12 games, second best in the league during the month of December. Anze Kopitar had a season-high three assists, giving him 17 points in the last 12. The Kings have scored 32 goals in the last eight games.
NOT: The third line of Wayne Simmonds, Michal Handzus and Kyle Clifford was unusually quiet on the offensive end, combining for just one shot on goal.
GOOD MOVE: Kings coach Terry Murray elected to save Quick for the Sharks and it paid off with his 12th career shutout. Jonathan Bernier was able to gain confidence during a 4-1 victory Sunday against the struggling Ducks, allowing Quick to be fresh against the streaking Sharks. Murray had started Bernier when the Kings played in San Jose on Nov. 15 and he was lit up in the 6-3 loss.
BAD MOVE: Niemi was brilliant through the first two periods but stopped just three of seven shots in the third. The second goal was particularly brutal as Marco Sturm’s soft flick from the left face-off circle trickled between his legs. It was Sturm’s first goal as a King and came against his former team.
NOTABLE: Kings left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky was scratched before the game because of a lower-body injury. He’s listed as day-to-day. Westgarth filled in nicely.
UP NEXT: at Phoenix, Wednesday, 6 p.m.