Staples Center

Kings Sink Sharks 4-1 to End Season On High Note

The Los Angeles Kings ended their disappointing season on a high-note on Saturday by defeating their California rivals 4-1 at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Kings ended their season on a high note on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

The two perennial hockey franchises that call California their home have made the playoffs each of the last five seasons. At Staples Center on Saturday, it was unfamiliar territory as each had their playoff chances crushed over the past week.

“It’s never a game you want to play in,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown of the meaningless contest. “But if you are in that situation we are all competitors and want to win a game like that. It means nothing in the standings, but it means a lot for the room.”

Disappointed and dejected that they would not be able to defend their Stanley Cup title, the Kings started out flat, surrendering an early goal to Brent Burns off the power play.

The Kings would come back however, scoring four unanswered goals to sink the Sharks 4-1. Tyler Toffoli, Brayden McNabb, and Marian Gaborik all scored as the Staples Center crowd gave their home team a standing ovation for a tremendous effort in the 2014-2015 season and two Stanley Cups in the past three years.

“It meant a lot for them to still support us,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty of the fans reception. “I guess they’re still satisfied that we brought them two Cups in the last three years. Even though we didn’t make the playoffs they are still here supporting us. Next year we’re going to come back and try and get back to the top.”

The Kings became just the fifth team since the NHL merger in 1967 to miss the postseason after winning the Stanley Cup the previous season when they fell to the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the Saddledome on Thursday.

The team finishes the season with 95 points, good for ninth place in the Western Conference. Ironically, 95 points would have put the Kings in the playoffs in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, and 95 points is exactly what the Kings finished with in 2012 the year they won their first title.

Burns scored on a power-play goal just 1:38 into the game. Joe Pavelski passed the puck to Burns whose one-timer beat Quick stick side for just his first goal in the last 20 games.

Toffoli tied the game midway through the second period. The young forward picked up a loose puck in the Sharks zone and slipped it through the crease for his 23rd goal of the season.

McNabb opened the third period with a bouncing shot that got passed Sharks goalie Alex Stalock. Gaborik beat the Minnesota native a few minutes later for his 27th goal of the season. Stalock surrendered three goals and stopped 32 shots on the day.

Rookie Andy Andreoff also added an empty-netter for his second goal of the season. He was also credited with an assist on Toffoli’s goal giving Andreoff his first career multi-point game.

Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for the Kings picking up his 35th victory of the season.

Quick and the Kings will now have an extended summer of rest for the first time since 2009. The Kings best six year stretch in franchise history has also meant the team has had to play more games than ever before. Since 2009, LA has played 64 playoff games, won 10 playoff series and hoisted two Stanley Cups.

“Excuses are for losers,” said former Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams of the extended post season runs being a reason for the team’s struggles this season. “We’re not fatigued. We just got kicked on our asses. We have to get ourselves back up. It’s frustrating and embarrassing, but mostly I’m angry that someone else is going to hold up the Cup.”

All eyes now focus on the offseason where you can expect plenty of changes to the current salary-cap strapped roster. Defenseman Robyn Regehr was named the third star in what is likely his last game in the NHL. The 34-year-old veteran announced his retirement in the locker room after the game.

A bevy of Kings players are free agents this summer, restricted or otherwise. Among them are Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Justin Williams, Jamie McBain, Andrej Sekera, Jaret Stoll and Tyler Toffoli.

“Whatever happens, happens,” said Stoll of the offseason. “I said it other day, it’s hockey. You play and you work hard for your team and you be a good teammate and that’s all you can do. We’ll see what happens.”

Game Notes:
The Kings tied their franchise record for most points at home in a season with 57. The Kings announced after the game that they sold out all 41 home games for the third consecutive season and 161st time overall (both franchise records).

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