LOS ANGELES (AP) – After the Sharks and the Kings struggled to shoot any pucks into either net throughout a defense-dominated night, Joel Ward put his best foot forward.
Ward scored the tiebreaking goal on a long deflection off his skate with 7:10 to play, and San Jose rallied from a third-period deficit for a 2-1 victory over the Kings on Sunday night.
Melker Karlsson scored the tying goal early in the third before Ward got creative and lucky , using his left skate from the faceoff circle to redirect Barclay Goodrow’s shot past Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick for his third goal of the season.
“I started playing soccer the last couple of days,” Ward said with a laugh, referring to many hockey players’ long-standing tradition of using soccer to warm up before games in arena hallways. “I don’t know. I saw it coming my direction. I actually knew Timo (Meier) was on the back side, and I just tried to redirect it over to his area.”
Instead, it somehow went straight into Los Angeles’ net for the eventual winner in the latest chapter of this long-standing California rivalry.
Martin Jones made 26 saves for the Sharks, who have won six of seven overall after evening the season series with Los Angeles.
“Especially when you come back in the third period to win it, it’s even more rewarding,” Goodrow said. “It’s always a tight-checking game against these guys.”
Dustin Brown scored on a first-period power play for the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who have lost four of six after a 9-1-1 start. Quick stopped 31 shots, but Los Angeles lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
“I thought we played 20 (minutes) really well, and then 40 the way they wanted to play,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “There were lots of issues before (Ward’s) ricochet happened. It may look like an unlucky play, but there was an awful lot of things that could have gone better prior to that puck going into the net.”
Captain Anze Kopitar extended his points streak to a career high-tying eight games with an assist for the Kings, but the game was appropriately low-scoring for a meeting of the NHL’s two stingiest defensive teams.
“We just pulled back and we weren’t attacking as much as we did in the first couple of periods,” Kopitar said. “They were able to capitalize on that, but it was just a couple of fluky goals, really.”
The Kings went ahead in the first period on Brown’s redirection of Kopitar’s shot for the Kings’ sixth power play goal in six games.
The 33-year-old Brown was stripped of the Kings’ captaincy last season and seemed to be on the downslope of his career with an immovable, multi-year contract and declining production.
But the two-time Stanley Cup winner has been utterly revitalized under new coach John Stevens. Playing with his usual physicality while rediscovering his offensive ability, Brown scored his eighth goal of this season nearly three months earlier than he hit the same mark last year, when he failed to crack 40 points for the fourth consecutive season.
After a scoreless second period featuring 15 saves by Quick, Karlsson tied it with his third goal of the season after a Kings clearing attempt took an odd deflection. Logan Couture got his Sharks-leading 15th point with an assist.
NOTES: Kopitar also has a seven-game assists streak, another career high. He leads the Kings with 21 points. Kopitar scored his 21st point last season on Jan. 12. … Sharks RW Kevin Labanc returned to the lineup after a two-game stint in the minors. Jannik Hansen was a healthy scratch. … Kings F Adrian Kempe returned to the lineup after missing one game. Rookie Michael Amadio was scratched for the first time since his NHL debut Oct. 26.
Sharks: Host Florida Panthers on Thursday to open a three-game homestand.
Kings: Host Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday in the third game of a five-game homestand.
More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tags/NHLhockey
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)