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Quick Bites: Sharks take advantage of opportunities against Kings

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It wasn’t dominating, but it’s a win.

Nov 29, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Ben Hutton (15) and San Jose Sharks center Barclay Goodrow (23) battle along the boards for the puck during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

You may have missed the San Jose Sharks versus Los Angeles Kings game since it was an afternoon start on Black Friday. No judgement here, I’m just happy to deliver some great Sharks news and highlights.

Noah Gregor’s First NHL Goal

Young Noah Gregor is starting to earn Head Coach Pete DeBoer’s trust. The 21-year-old is in his first professional season at the AHL and NHL level and on Friday, he scored his first NHL goal. It’s also his first point in the big leagues.

This is Gregor’s 11th NHL game. If he scores a few more goals like these, he may have earned himself a permanent spot on the fourth line.

No possession, no problem

When the Sharks were in the midst of their six game winning streak, they were dominating play and possessing the puck. While the score looks like San Jose had complete control, it wasn’t the case.

Check out Natural Stat Trick’s read on the game:

You can see that at score- and venue-adjusted 5-on-5, the Sharks really didn’t have sustained control of the puck for long stretches in the game. The shot clock tells the same story. San Jose was out-shot by LA, 34 to 22.

While it wasn’t a problem against LA, it’s something that really needs to be cleaned up for the Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

Full 60 minutes

What the Sharks did do was play the full 60 minutes.

When the Sharks played the Kings on Monday, they played a full 39 minutes and then let the Kings take over the last 21 minutes of regulation. What resulted was the deterioration of a 3-0 lead and a need for overtime. Yes, the Sharks won in the end, but it was much closer than it needed to be.

Entering the third period against the Kings this time, the Sharks continued to play their game. While they did not dominate play — as explained above — they did limit the high-danger scoring chances and ultimately gave Jones a chance to make the saves he needed.

Jones stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced.

Tomas Hertl returns

After missing four games because of an injury, Hertl was a game-time decision. He didn’t make it onto the scoresheet in his return from injury, but he did balance out the lines. Hertl played 13:42 minutes in 16 shifts and rounded out the top six the way the Sharks needed.

The one scary thing is that Hertl missed a good portion of the third period, as in wasn’t even on the bench.

He’s expected to travel to Arizona with the team, so that’s good news.

12 forwards, 6 defensemen

The return of Hertl also marked the return of the more standard 12 forwards, 6 defensemen lineup. Tim Heed was the odd man out on defense.

Kevin Labanc was dropped down to the third line. Patrick Marleau kept his spot on the top line with Logan Couture and Evander Kane. Spreading out the skill gave DeBoer the opportunity to balance out the minutes a little better. Third liners like Thornton and Labanc each had 17-plus minutes of TOI.

Couture finished with 18:32 of TOI, compared to the 20:29 he played on Monday against the Kings. Kane ended with 20:58 of TOI, compared to the 23:04 he played on Monday against the Kings.

The major penalty that was reduced to a minor penalty

They call it the Joe Pavelski rule and it came into play during this game. The Kings’ Kurtis MacDermid leveled Antti Suomela with a hit that left Suomela hurting on the ice. The Sharks’ trainer was out there immediately and MacDermid was escorted to the box.

The referees initially called a five-minute major. That’s when the Joe Pavelski rule went into effect and the play was automatically reviewed. After watching it from all angles, the referees then determined the hit was not egregious enough for a five-minute major. They dropped it to a two-minute interference call.

Bret Hedican said on the broadcast it was the right call. After the game, DeBoer called it a clean hit and a “big man hit.”

Suomela went to the dressing room to get checked out and there’s no word on his condition. The good news is that he managed to skate off the ice on his own, without help.

The bad news is that the Sharks were unable to score on the ensuing power play.

He’s can’t tip like Pavelski, but he’s trying

With Joe Pavelski off in Dallas, the Sharks were in need of another guy to set up shop in front of the net. While it hasn’t really been Logan Couture’s top skill, he’s doing the best he can. Couture battled his way to the top of the crease, and was able to out muscle the defenseman to get his stick on the puck and deflect it past Jonathan Quick.

It’s the kind of goal the Sharks need more of.

Patrick Marleau, King killer

It was almost the game winning goal, though with less than two minutes left in the game, Kyle Clifford spoiled it. Patrick Marleau scored the first goal of the game, with an easy tap in.

For Marleau it was his 43rd goal against the Kings and his 15th against Quick. He now has 557 goals, 27th all-time in NHL history.

While it wasn’t the game winner, it was the goal that really set the Sharks on course for the win.