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Sharks choke up late lead, drop fourth straight

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The Sharks have hit rock bottom.

It is hard to imagine things can get any lower for San Jose (16-20-3) after a meltdown in the closing minutes resulted in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Kings (16-20-4) Friday night.

San Jose’s fourth consecutive loss has left the team in last place in the Western Conference. Erik Karlsson said the Sharks “should be a good hockey team”:

“We’re not a good hockey team right now. And when things start going the way that they are right now and it’s not working up to your normal standards, you have to find ways to get out of it as soon as possible. … We haven’t done a very good job at that this year. “

Despite veteran forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau breaking goal and point-scoring streaks respectively, the Sharks gave up three unanswered goals to the Kings in the third period and overtime. Interim head coach Bob Boughner said:

“Our two oldest guys were our best players on the ice tonight. That’s nice to see from those guys, but it shouldn’t happen. Some guys underneath should be looking to those guys and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Kings forward Martin Frk scored two goals in the third period to send the game to overtime, leading to Jeff Carter scoring the game-winner.

With both teams coming off a four-day holiday break, the Kings had offensive pressure early, leading 8-0 in shots on goal through the first eight minutes. The first period finished with Los Angeles still leading 10-8 in shots on goal.

But the Sharks open the scoring off a quick play just six minutes into the second period. Thornton won an offensive zone faceoff back to Erik Karlsson, who sniped a wrist shot from the point past goaltender Jack Campbell. Karlsson’s fourth goal of the season snapped his 13-game goalless streak and gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

With an assist on the goal due to Thornton’s faceoff win bouncing off his skate, Marleau broke his career-high 11-game streak without a point.

Six minutes later, a set of quick passes extended the San Jose lead. Marcus Sorensen skated the puck into the offensive zone and dropped it to Thornton, who sent it cross-ice to Marleau, who passed it to Radim Simek. In his first appearance in seven games due to injury, Simek slid a backhand pass back to Thornton for a backdoor tap-in goal. It was Thornton’s first goal of the season and his first in 42 games, dating back to May 15. Karlsson said:

“I think that being up 2-0 was good for us going into the third. It felt like we played good enough to win the game, but still a tight game and you got to play all the way til the end.”

The Kings responded with both early and late goals in the third period. From behind the Sharks net, Nikolai Prokhorkin’s backhand pass set up Frk’s one-timer, which cut the San Jose lead to 2-1 just 90 seconds into the third period. Then in the final 90 seconds of the period, Frk tied the game at 2-2 on a similar play, blasting another one-timer past Aaron Dell

Said Boughner:

“I didn’t think we won enough of those board battles and we didn’t commit enough to get pucks deep. Both goals were off of breakouts and both goals were bang-bang plays into the slot. Those have to be covered off.”

In overtime, Brent Burns had a chance to put the game away, but his backhand shot went off the post. Boughner said:

“I feel like we’re still searching for that bounce. [Burns] hit a crossbar. That was a beautiful play there, that we had a chance to win the game, and that’s the fine line.”

The Kings took it the other way, and a defensive breakdown lead to Jeff Carter sliding the puck past a sprawling Dell to secure the Kings’ 3-2 comeback win.

Campbell stopped 22 of 24 shots. Dell had 35 saves, improving his save percentage to .914 this December. Dell has not given up more than three goals this month.

The Sharks have another chance to break their losing streak Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Burns said:

“A lot of times it’s just mental. you just gotta try to force yourself to feel good and see it both ways. If a team’s hot, they feel they feel invincible. You gotta try to get that feeling and feel confident.”

Notes

This game marked the return of Mario Ferraro and Radim Simek to the Sharks lineup. Ferraro missed three games and Simek missed seven due to injury. … With two assists, Patrick Marleau is now tied with Sergei Fedorov for No. 51 on the NHL’s all-time points list with 1,179th career points. … With a goal and an assist, Joe Thornton recorded his first multi-point game of the season.

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