SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Opening night went as scripted for the San Jose Sharks from the unveiling of the Western Conference championship banner to Brent Burns’ game-winning goal in the third period.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Los Angeles Kings, who might have lost far more than the season opener when star goalie Jonathan Quick left the game with a lower-body injury.
Burns scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period against Los Angeles backup Jeff Zatkoff and the Sharks beat the Kings 2-1 Wednesday.
“There was energy in the building,” forward Logan Couture said. “It was a cool moment with the banner. Sharks fans were into it from the start. It was like the playoffs. We came out on the ice and it felt like a playoff game right away.”
Couture added a power-play goal and an assist and Martin Jones made 21 saves in San Jose’s first real game since losing the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh exactly four months earlier.
Tyler Toffoli scored a power-play goal in a rough start to the season for the Kings.
Quick left after stopping 14 of 15 shots in the first period with a lower body injury. He hurt himself stretching to get to the post to stop a chance by Joe Pavelski late in the period and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
“We all know what Quickie brings for our team and what he’s done here,” Toffoli said. “We can’t be thinking about that, we have to be positive. Zat’s played unbelievable coming into today. We’re confident in what he has for our team.”
After a high-paced opening period, the game settled down and it took a fortunate bounce for the Sharks to take the lead just over 3 minutes into the third. Joonas Donskoi tried to slide a pass to Mikkel Boedker but a sprawled out Drew Doughty blocked it.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the puck went straight to Burns, who beat Zatkoff for the goal that put San Jose up 2-1. That was the only goal Zatkoff allowed on 16 shots.
“It’s my job to be ready when Quickie needs a break or he goes down,” he said. “So I have to make sure the team doesn’t miss a beat.”
The Kings remained in the locker room as the Sharks played video highlights from last season – including the first-round win over Los Angeles – and unveiled the banner for winning the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history.
Los Angeles then jumped on top early, getting a power play just 33 seconds into the game and converting when Toffoli beat Jones high to the short side.
But the Sharks took over the play in the second half of the period and got the equalizer when Couture beat Quick from the slot on the power play. The referee initially ruled the puck hit the crossbar and Joe Pavelski and Quick got into a scrum as San Jose celebrated the apparent goal. After a replay review, the goal counted.
“It felt like four months ago and the playoffs were still on,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “That was a man’s game out there. It was physical, it was hard. They came obviously ready to play and to try and send a message that the playoffs last year wasn’t something that they were happy about. I thought our guys responded.”
NOTES: This marked the third straight season these teams opened against each other with San Jose winning all three of the meetings. … Former Sharks F Devin Setoguchi made his Kings debut on the top line and played his first NHL game since Nov. 22, 2014, as he dealt with alcohol problems. … Los Angeles F Tanner Pearson served the first of a two-game suspension for an illegal check in the preseason.
Kings: Los Angeles plays its home opener Friday against Philadelphia.
Sharks: San Jose starts a five-game road trip Saturday in Columbus.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.