LOS ANGELES — After a lukewarm start following the NHL’s three-day Christmas break, the Kings had no trouble posting back-to-back home wins for the second time this season.
Beating the San Jose Sharks, bottom of the Pacific Division, for the second time in less than two weeks, the Kings overcame a dismal first 20 minutes to win, 5-1, at Crypto.com Arena.
Adrian Kempe scored twice, Kevin Fiala scored after being benched in the first period and Trevor Lewis and Pierre-Luc Dubois also scored for the Kings, who have won four of their last five games. David Rittich made 24 saves, following a 4-1 win and near-shutout in his season debut against San Jose on Dec. 19, with another solid performance.
Fabian Zetterlund scored and Kaapo Kahkonen allowed five goals on 40 shots for the Sharks, who lost their sixth straight game.
Fiala of the Kings gives and leaves on the first two goals of the match.
The Sharks only managed 16 shots on goal in the previous meeting between the two teams. But on Wednesday, as visitors, they took a deserved lead after controlling the first 10 minutes and putting the puck in the Kings’ net.
A sloppy backpass from Fiala at the San Jose blue line was intended for defenseman Mikey Anderson, but Zetterland intercepted it and split the two in two before charging at Rittich at the opposite end of the ice.
Zetterland’s 10th of the season came unassisted under the goalie’s glove at 11:04.
Making his second start with the Kings since being recalled from Ontario’s reign, Rittich was tested by eight San Jose shots in the first period – more than San Jose put on him during any period in his Kings debut last week.
Meanwhile, the Kings’ offense was nowhere to be found in the second of four regular-season meetings between the state rivals.
After just six attempts in the first half, the Kings led the rest of the game in San Jose, starting with redemption for Fiala less than three minutes after play resumed.
This time, it was Fialia, who was on the bench for the final 8:58 of the first period following his bad pass, who gathered the puck near the opposing blue line, leading to an equalizing breakaway by beating Kahkonen on the side of the glove.
Thirteen seconds later, at 3:10 of the second period, the Kings took a lead they would not relinquish when Lewis beat an opposing defender to the puck behind the Sharks net, scoring his fifth goal of the season with a low setback.
Dubois scored his second goal in as many games at 12:26, finding the back of the net on a rebound of an Arthur Kaliyev slap shot that gave the Kings a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Kempe scored both of his goals in the final period, giving him 11 for the season, after connecting on a redirect from defender Matt Roy and then cutting through the San Jose defense to give Kahkonen five points through the five holes as the contest drew to a close.
Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov was activated off injured reserve after missing five games, and the Russian played more than 20 minutes.
The result marks a record sixth straight victory for the Kings (20-7-4) over the Sharks (9-23-3), the 45th win all-time at home against San Jose.
More to come on this story.
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