SAN JOSE – In their biggest test so far in the preseason, the Sharks fell flat against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, losing 4-1.
The Sharks played their strongest lineup to date with both the Joe Thornton and Logan Couture lines suiting up, but also faced a Kings roster of mostly NHL players.
Each team scored once in the first, on goals by Thornton and Drew Doughty, but the Kings tallied twice in the second to take control.
Just 44 seconds into the middle frame, Jordan Nolan’s soft attempt towards the net deflected off of Anze Kopitar and landed in crease. Dustin Brown easily knocked it in, giving the Kings their first lead at 2-1.
Justin Williams increased LA’s cushion to two goals, when he got free at the side of the net after Scott Hannan and Taylor Fedun got crossed up. He easily flicked in a feed from Dwight King high over Antti Niemi at 16:17.
Niemi allowed all four goals, including a very stoppable shot by King at 12:08 of the third period, as King squeaked it inside the short side post.
The Sharks fell to 2-2-1 on the preseason. They wrap up their schedule this weekend in Arizona and Anaheim, before meeting the Kings at Staples Center on Oct. 8 for the season opener.
A pair of former Sharks first round draft picks got long looks different situations, as Nikolay Goldobin started on Joe Thornton’s line, while Mirco Mueller skated with Brent Burns on defense. Goldobin was later bumped to a line with Chris Tierney and Patrick Marleau, and finished scoreless in 15 minutes of ice time.
Mueller looked very comfortable if unspectacular, in playing nearly 21 minutes. He finished with a -2 rating, one shot on goal, a pair of hits and a blocked shot.
Tommy Wingels ended up playing in Goldobin’s original spot with Thornton and Tomas Hertl late in the game, a line that very well could be together for the opener, depending on where San Jose slots Joe Pavelski.
San Jose’s roster stands at 26 skaters, including the injured Tyler Kennedy (upper body).
The Sharks and Kings were playing in the preseason for the first time since 2009, when they met in a neutral site game in Bakersfield.
Doughty’s first period goal came on the power play, as the Kings were 1-for-3. The Sharks failed on both of their advantages.
Niemi fell to 0-1-1 in the preseason, and has allowed five goals on 48 shots overall. He also had a few nervous moments behind the net playing the puck.
Quick was seeing his first action of the preseason after having wrist surgery in July. He made 16 saves on 17 shots before giving way to backup Martin Jones for the third period. Jones turned away all seven shots directed his way.
Scratches for San Jose were Joe Pavelski, John Scott, Adam Burish, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Eriah Hayes. Tyler Kennedy (upper body) and Jason Demers (undisclosed) also did not play.
Among the notable players sitting for Los Angeles were Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and Tyler Toffoli.
Like Quick, Doughty was playing in his first game as well, after recovering from an upper body injury that caused him to miss the start of camp.