San Jose at Los Angeles

Sharks closer to playoffs after shutting down Kings


LOS ANGELES -- The road and the Los Angeles Kings have been very good for the San Jose Sharks' playoff hopes.

Jonathan Cheechoo had two goals and an assist as Sharks moved one step closer to securing a playoff spot with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala made just 14 saves to earn his second shutout of the season. Scott Thornton, Joe Thornton and Steve Bernier scored third-period goals for San Jose as the Sharks moved into a seventh-place tie with Edmonton.

After wining all three games of a road trip to Dallas, Colorado and Los Angeles, the Sharks now have a two-point lead over ninth-place Vancouver and a four-point edge over the Kings in tenth.

"Obviously you want to make the playoffs as a first priority, but along the way you want to finish as high as you can," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "This road trip gives us a lot of confidence, because they were all tough games."

San Jose has won five straight against the Kings, taking three of the four games played in Los Angeles to lead the season series 6-1. The teams will meet in the final game of the season in San Jose.

"We made too many mistakes, it was everybody," said Kings forward Pavol Demitra, who was held without a shot. "We look like we are so nervous, like we don't want to play."

Cheechoo fired a 35-foot slap shot over the glove of Kings goalie Mathieu Garon to give San Jose a 1-0 lead 3:26 into the game.

"It seems as though the Kings thought we would come out slow tonight, we had a 60-minute, good effort from everyone and they underestimated how we'd come out," said Joe Thornton, who also improved his league-leading assist total to 83 with a pair.

Garon made two sharp glove saves in the second -- one on Cheechoo, the other on Patrick Marleau off a two-on-one rush -- to keep Los Angeles within a goal.

But Joe Thornton and Cheechoo were able to work a set play for a goal off a late-second period faceoff to give San Jose a two-goal cushion going into the third period. Thornton went forward on the draw and then slid a pass through the through the crease to Cheechoo for a tap-in goal.

"We've tried it a few times, it never really connected like tonight," said Cheechoo, who now has 48 goals, 41 since Thornton was acquired from Boston on Nov. 30. "You have to try things off the faceoff just to catch them off guard."

Toskala has started 13 of the last 16 games for San Jose, winning nine -- including all three games of the Sharks road trip that ended in Los Angeles.

"He was great whenever we did break down. He made three or four great saves," Wilson said.

Los Angeles interim head coach John Torchetti dropped to 3-5 since replacing Andy Murray on March 21.

"I think I have to get them better prepared for the next game," Torchetti said. "I'm the coach, I'll take full responsibility."


  • Kings veteran left wing Luc Robitaille was a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Defenseman Nathan Dempsey was cleared to play following a concussion, but was also a healthy scratch.
  • The Sharks will play four of their final six games at home.
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Jonathan Cheechoo taps in his second goal of the game and reaches the 48th mark for the season. (AP)
Jonathan Cheechoo taps in his second goal of the game and reaches the 48th mark for the season. (AP)
San Jose  (38-26-11) «1135
Los Angeles (40-33-5)0000
Three Stars
J. Cheechoo

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
J. Thornton

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
V. Toskala

Saves: 14
Save Pct.: 1.000

Related Video

Scoring Summary
03:26Jonathan Cheechoo (47), Slap Shot - Unassisted.
19:51Jonathan Cheechoo (48), Backhand Shot - Assist: Joe Thornton
09:40Scott Thornton (10), Wrist Shot - Assists: Alyn McCauley and Ville Nieminen
10:42Power Play - Joe Thornton (28), Wrist Shot - Assists: Jonathan Cheechoo and Matthew Carle
17:21Power Play - Steve Bernier (12), Wrist Shot - Assists: Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton
Penalty Summary
13:35Cheechoo: Interference - 2 min.
04:20Corvo: Holding - 2 min.
07:14Frolov: Hooking - 2 min.
16:29Gorges: Holding - 2 min.
04:31McCauley: Hooking - 2 min.
05:51Brown: Tripping - 2 min.
07:32Sopel: Hooking - 2 min.
09:54Corvo: Hooking - 2 min.
11:05Ehrhoff: Delaying Game - 2 min.
15:04Rissmiller: Boarding - 2 min.
15:50Demitra: Holding - 2 min.
16:30Conroy: Holding - 2 min.
San Jose13813 34
Los Angeles383 14
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