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Apr 4, 2:09 AM EDT

Sharks beat Kings 2-1 in possible playoff preview


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AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored second-period goals and the San Jose Sharks clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Thursday night.

Antti Niemi made 26 saves and the Sharks overcame a first-period deficit to move within a point of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division. The Ducks still have two games in hand and the inside track on the top spot.

Jordan Nolan scored the lone goal for the Kings, who had their eight-game road losing streak snapped by their first loss away from home since Jan. 28 in Phoenix. Martin Jones made 19 saves as starter Jonathan Quick got rest a night after shutting out the Coyotes to clinch a playoff berth.

The Kings are locked into third place in the division after the loss. Of more immediate concern was an upper-body injury that knocked star defenseman Drew Doughty out midway through the first period. Doughty appeared to hurt his left shoulder while checking Tyler Kennedy.

That was one of many hard hits in a chippy game between the heated California rivals that had a bit of a playoff intensity to it. The crowd chanted "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" right from the opening faceoff and there was plenty of physical play from both sides.

Even San Jose's usually tame captain Joe Thornton nearly got into a fight with Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov as both teams seemed intent on sending a message in case these teams meet again as expected in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

This would be the third postseason meeting between the rivals in the past four years, with San Jose winning a first-round series in six games in 2011 and Los Angeles winning a seven-game, second-round series last spring.

The home team has won 16 of the past 17 games in this series, including all seven in last year's playoffs. The Kings were the only road team to break through in that stretch with a 1-0 win on Jan. 27.

The Sharks took over the play in the second period, scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. The first goal came just 4 seconds after Kings forward Dustin Brown was sent off for roughing Andrew Desjardins.

Thornton won the ensuing faceoff from Jarret Stoll and the puck got back to the point to Brent Burns, whose shot deflected off Pavelski to tie the game.

San Jose went ahead a few minutes later when Jones couldn't control a shot by Tommy Wingels and Couture scored his 21st goal on a wraparound.

The Kings threatened but couldn't tie it in the third as Niemi stopped Anze Kopitar in the final minute to seal it.

The Kings got on top early on a double deflection as Alec Martinez's point shot deflected off Jaret Stoll and then Nolan before it beat Niemi less than 4 minutes into the game.

The Sharks didn't test Jones much early as most of the opening period was played in San Jose's end. Their best chance came when Marty Havlat shot wide on a breakaway.

NOTES: Martinez has 15 points in his past 17 games. ... Kings F Dwight King was sideline by an undisclosed injury and D Matt Greene played his 500th game as Willie Mitchell got the night off. ... The Sharks dressed D Scott Hannan in place of Matt Irwin.

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