LOS ANGELES (AP) — Every game in the San Jose Sharks’ rivalry series with Los Angeles takes a bit extra out of both teams.
After 11 meetings with the Kings in the past 10 months, the Sharks were thrilled to get the final word in this argument for now.
Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels and captain Joe Pavelski scored in the Sharks’ seventh win at Staples Center in their last eight trips, 3-2 over the Kings on Wednesday night.
Joe Thornton had two assists and Martin Jones made 22 saves for the defending Western Conference champion Sharks, who wrapped up their regular-season series against Los Angeles with three victories in five games. Unless they meet in the playoffs for the second straight season, the Sharks will hold bragging rights until next year.
“I am glad to be done with them,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “If we don’t see them again, I’ll be all right with that.”
After Burns scored his 19th goal in the opening minutes, San Jose hung on through a scoreless third period to continue its recent domination in downtown Los Angeles, including three victories in last season’s first-round postseason series. Third-place San Jose also moved eight points ahead of the fifth-place Kings in the Pacific Division standings.
“These are exciting games to play,” said forward Micheal Haley, who set up Wingels’ goal on a 2-on-1 rush late in the first period. “It’s always a great rivalry. It’s over now, but we always want to make that distance grow (in the standings). Those guys are always in the back of our minds.”
Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik scored for the Kings, who ended a seven-game homestand with four defeats. Peter Budaj stopped 24 shots, but Los Angeles’ power play struggled mightily in the Kings’ final home game before they host the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29.
“We’re not leaving on a good note, so we’ve got to find some little gem in each other to get going here,” defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “Our fight inside has to improve.”
The Sharks played without forward Logan Couture, who stayed home with an illness. They still had enough scoring skill and speed to overcome the deliberate Kings.
Burns put the Sharks ahead with a goal that deflected off Kings captain Anze Kopitar. The hulking Burns has four goals in five games to produce one of the most prolific goal-scoring starts to a season by a defenseman in recent NHL history.
Pearson evened it with an artful midair deflection of Derek Forbort’s shot for his 14th goal, one shy of his career high.
Wingels put the Sharks back ahead with his first goal in 17 games since Nov. 19. After Pavelski scored midway through the second period, Gaborik kept it close with a rebound goal.
Dustin Brown got assists on the Kings’ first two goals, giving him six points in five games. The Kings’ Stanley Cup-winning former captain is having an offensive resurgence since losing the “C’’ to Kopitar this season.
Kopitar returned to the Kings’ lineup after missing a game with an illness.
NOTES: The Kings have only one home game in the next four weeks, making two East Coast road trips and getting a week off in early February. ... Sharks F Joonas Donskoi missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Los Angeles Chargers stars Melvin Gordon and Jason Verrett, a Northern California native, attended the game several hours after appearing at a welcome ceremony for their team in Inglewood. The Chargers will play the next two seasons in StubHub Center, which is owned by AEG, the sports conglomerate that also owns the Kings and Staples Center.
Sharks: Host Lightning on Thursday night.
Kings: At Islanders on Saturday night.