LOS ANGELES -– It would be a tad overzealous to say that the Sharks ruined the Kings’ banner-raising party on Wednesday night at Staples Center, since the Sharks are a big reason Los Angeles was able to have that party in the first place.
The result still had to feel good, though.
After the Kings raised their second Stanley Cup championship banner in three seasons in a lengthy and loud pregame ceremony, Tommy Wingels scored two gorgeous goals, and Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto also converted to give the Sharks a 4-0 win over the Kings in the season opener for both clubs.
Antti Niemi stopped all 34 shots directed his way for his 28th career shutout.
The Sharks will host Winnipeg on Saturday in their home opener.
Wingels opened the scoring after a rush up ice with linemates Chris Tierney and Tye McGinn, the latter of whom won a battle behind the net and pushed the puck over to an open Wingels. Despite having virtually no angle, Wingels found daylight over Jonathan Quick’s nearside shoulder at 5:43 of the first period.
Marleau increased the lead to 2-0 on a power play, deflecting a Brent Burns pass through Quick at 3:20 of the second period.
The Sharks put it away with a pair of goals just 14 seconds apart later in the second.
Wingels made it 3-0 when he chipped the puck ahead from the neutral zone and hurried towards the net. He faked to his right and then moved to his left before lifting in a backhand past a faked-out Quick at 15:50.
On the ensuing faceoff, Marleau forced Quick into a turnover behind the net, while Matt Nieto raced towards the play and deposited the puck into the empty cage at 16:04 to increase San Jose’s lead to 4-0.
The Kings went quietly, not registering their first shot in the third period until midway through the frame.
Niemi was a bit of a surprise starter in net, and although he was rarely tested, rewarded his coach’s confidence. His biggest stop came with the Sharks nursing a 1-0 lead, when he went from his left to his right to rob Jeff Carter of a wraparound goal two minutes into the second period.
The Sharks were mum on their captaincy situation until warm-ups, when Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski emerged wearing A’s on their sweaters. Marc-Edouard Vlasic will also rotate in as an alternate captain at some point.
The Sharks finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while killing off all five Kings advantages.
Late in regulation, the Kings went on a two-man advantage after penalties to Justin Braun for tripping and Mike Brown for boarding at 18:53. They did not convert.
San Jose spread out its firepower on its two units, keeping the top two scoring lines together. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns manned the points on the Thornton line with Pavelski and Tomas Hertl, while Mirco Mueller and Jason Demers skated with Marleau, Nieto and Logan Couture.
Niemi improved to 13-6-3 all-time in his career against the Kings.
It’s the third time he has blanked Los Angeles.
Quick was pulled after two periods, surrendering four goals on 27 shots. Martin Jones came in at the start of the third and stopped six of six shots against.
Tierney and Mueller were making their NHL debuts.
Three Sharks begin the season on injured reserve: Raffi Torres (right knee), James Sheppard (left knee) and Tyler Kennedy (upper body). Only Torres will be out long term.
Rookie Barclay Goodrow is not yet on the roster due to a left hand injury, but was with the team in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin was scratched with an upper body injury.
After Saturday’s game at SAP Center, the Sharks go right back on the road for five straight, beginning in Washington on Oct. 14. The trip continues to Long Island, New Jersey, New York and Boston.