ONTARIO, Calif. -- First the good news.
Second-line center Jarret Stoll was cleared to resume hockey activities and participated in his first practice this afternoon.
Then the bad.
The Kings traveled 43 miles southeast for a home game with the President's Trophy winning San Jose Sharks and Dustin Brown knotted the score with just 9.5 seconds left but the Kings fell in a shootout, 2-1 in front of 6,245 fans.
The Kings had three power plays in the first nine minutes of the game but San Jose scored first at the 12:52 mark as Benn Ferriero snuck one past the pads of Jonathan Quick on an assist from Mathieu Dandenault for a 1-0 lead, despite the Kings out-shooting San Jose, 10-5 in the first period.
"I know we had power plays in the first but we let up and kept looking for one more play," head coach Terry Murray said. "We just need to get pucks to the net.
"I want that shot mentality to keep putting pucks on the net and we'll find a way to screen the goaltender."
It was on the Kings eighth power play with just 9.5 seconds left that the Kings finally beat Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss. Andrei Loktionov earned the assist as the Kings pulled their goalie for a man-advantage and tied the game to force overtime. The Kings scored four times with the goalie pulled in 2008-09.
Quick was making his first start of the pre-season, stopping 24-of-25 while stopping 3-of-4 in the shootout in taking the loss. The Kings second-year starting goaltender went 21-18-2 with a .914 SV# and a 2.48 goals against average in 44 games last season. The 21 wins was the third-most ever by a Kings rookie net minder.
"Quick was really good tonight," Murray said. "He faced a lot of power plays coming at him, 5-on-4s and 4-on-3s, and you have to work hard to find the puck. He made a lot of big saves that pushed the game to overtime."
The Kings went 8-11 in OT last season and just 5-8 in 13 shootouts, two trends the Kings hope to change in 2009-10.
Another trend the Kings hope to change is their record vs. San Jose, having gone just 1-3-2 vs. the Sharks a year ago, losing two in overtime and dropping a 1-0 game, surrendering just 16 goals in the six-game series.
Both the Kings and Sharks were without most of their regulars including the Sharks newly acquired Dany Heatley, who is expected to arrive in San Jose tonight.
The game brought NHL hockey to Citizen's Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA, about 43 miles southeast of where the Kings typically play their home games, STAPLES Center, in downtown Los Angeles. Citizen's Business Bank Arena is home to the East Coast Hockey League's Ontario Reign, a Kings affiliate. The Reign played their first season in 2008-09, finishing 38-29-6 and advancing to the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs where they lost in the first round to the Stockton Thunder in seven games. Thursday night's game was one of three Kings pre-season games taking place in non-NHL arenas, as LA will also play at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Thomas LaRocca | LAKings.com Staff Writer