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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Kings: Smyth provides lead, Sharks take it away

By Dan Arritt

After the 2nd period:

San Jose Sharks 2, Kings 1

The good: Ryan Smyth and his famous wooden blade gave the Kings a 1-0 lead with 6 ½ minutes remaining in the period. Smyth carried the puck down the right side, cut between the face-off circles and sent relatively weak backhand at San Jose goalie Antti Niemi. San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle was trying to push Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll out of the crease and the puck may have nicked Boyle’s skate on the way into the net. Either way, Stoll’s presence certainly distracted Niemi. Smyth now has a team-high 19 goals, putting the 34-year-old right wing on pace for his best season since 2006-07.

The bad: Before the Kings had time to defend the one-goal lead, the Sharks scored two goals in 39 seconds. The first came on a great individual effort by Ryane Clowe, who just returned after missing four games with an ankle injury. Niemi actually started the play when he made a pad save. Clowe retrieved the puck and skated past both blue lines before sending a wrist shot into the top right corner for an unassisted goal. The second goal was another poor effort by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, something that’s occurred too often lately. Devin Setoguchi brought the puck out from behind the net and flicked a shot from a side angle toward the crease. Quick got a piece of the puck and redirected it between his own legs for a 2-1 lead with 3:57 remaining. Quick went from allowing one goal in the last nine periods against the Sharks to allowing two within a minute. The top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Andrei Loktionov still don’t have a shot on goal. In fact, the Kings have more giveaways (14) than shots on goal (13) through two periods.

The in between: The Colorado Avalanche lost to the Phoenix Coyotes tonight, so San Jose can move back into the top eight with a win. The Kings can pull within a point of eighth place with a victory. Brad Richardson leads the Kings with four shots on goal. Not a good sign when your fourth-line center is leading in that department.