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Kings Streak into All-Star Break

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This game against the division rivals San Jose Sharks was really important to the Kings. For one, they had just started to come out of their awful January having won their last two games. Also a win in regulation would allow them to vault over the Sharks in the standings. However most importantly they wanted to keep the momentum going for the last game before the All Star Break and their subsequent 10-game road trip which will keep them away from STAPLES Center most of February.

And in a playoff type atmosphere, the King came back to win the game in a shootout 3-2.

“That was a good game,” head coach Terry Murray said. “It was hard. It was heavy. There was good checking. There was some big hits. There was some scoring. It was a fun game. And big goaltending at both ends.”

Hell even STAPLES Center organist Dieter upped his game busting out with “Rock Lobster” and “Personal Jesus” early in the second period.

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After a defensive first period where most of the action was confined to the boards, the Kings finally opened up the middle when Ryan Smyth thanks to some good screens down got a shot from the high slot to get through netminder Antti Niemi at 13:35 in the second period.

But all of a sudden, the Kings losing streak woes reared their ugly head. After defenseman Alec Martinez collapsed to the net after taking a shot from the left point, no one went back to cover his position. Ryane Clowe got the rebound and skated down the length of the ice and scorched a shot from the top of the left circle past Jonathan Quick at 15:24.

“He made a good shot,” Quick remarked. “He just beat me.”

And they weren't done. After the faceoff, Devin Setoguchi ducked and weaved his way behind the Kings net. After Quick stopped his attempt to stuff it in, Logan Couture came into the crease unchecked and helped out in Setoguchi's second attempt to stuff it in for the go-ahead goal at 16:03.

The Kings reemerged in the third period with a patient determination. During a great shift with Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus and Brad Richardson on the ice, despite having many good scoring chances they stayed patient attacking the net. Finally Ponikarovsky found gold at 5:47 with a shot from the low slot and fell to his knees pumping his fist in celebration.

“You have to go through some tough times,” Ponikarovsky ruminated on his recent poor play since coming back from the injured reserved list. “We really hung on there. It was a pretty long [shift].

“They were tired - it was the end of the shift. We were lucky just to battle and put it in.”

While all game it seemed this Handzus line played very effectively, Murray was quick to point out Richardson's contributions.

“Getting pucks in deep and using his speed,” Murray said. “He won races to loose pucks there several times tonight.”

One the overall play of the line itself, “They played a very important part of the game tonight: big guys in Zus and Ponikarovsky and you got a little bit of a water bug there in Richie recovering those pucks.”

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the game was the Kings penalty kill at the end of the third period. When Richardson was called for a four-minute high sticking double-minor penalty at 13:19, the Kings were able to stop the fifth-ranked power-play team in the NHL.

“Four minutes is a long time to kill with the San Jose Sharks,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “It definitely gives you some confidence. It gives you a chance to get a point out of the game. If they score there, it will make it tough on us to get a goal with only a couple of minutes to go in the game.”

Johnson summed up that kill best: “It's the difference between two points and no points.”

In the shootout, both goalies came up big in the first three rounds. But it was Jarret Stoll who broke open the scoring to start the fourth round. Quick stopped Patrick Marleau's shot to send the sold out STAPLES Center crowd in a frenzy.

The Kings will take a three-day break for the All-Star festivities before embarking on that long talked about 10-game roadie. Their next home game will be on Feb. 24 against the Minnesota Wild.

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