San Jose, CA (Sports Network) – Kyle Wellwood had a goal and two assists and the San Jose Sharks clinched the Pacific Division for a fourth straight season with a 6-1 thrashing of Los Angeles.
Joe Thornton notched a goal and an assist to reach 999 points in his career while Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each added a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who took the division crown for the sixth time in club history. Antti Niemi made 31 saves.
San Jose, which has won four straight and eight of nine to get to 103 points, moved one point ahead of idle Detroit for the second spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have three games to play.
“The benefit of winning is knowing we will be in the No. 2 or 3 spot,” said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. “As the playoffs roll around we will have the opportunity to start in front of our great fans.”
Michal Handzus scored the lone goal for the Kings, who had won five of six coming in. Jonathan Quick was pulled in the second after giving up four goals on 16 shots. Jonathan Bernier stopped 17-of-19 shots the rest of the way.
Los Angeles, with 96 points, remains tied with Phoenix for the fourth spot in the Western Conference as both teams have three games to play, including Wednesday’s matchup in Los Angeles between the two clubs.
“They come back at you when you go at them,” said Los Angeles head coach Terry Murray. “We score there early in the second to make it a one-goal game and they come right back and from there it was their game.”
San Jose wasted no time jumping on top as Pavelski buried a juicy rebound off a Torrey Mitchell shot just 1:47 in and Vlasic’s wrister from the inside left circle at the 8:26 mark made it a 2-0 game.
The Kings got a goal back just under two minutes into the second on Handzus’ 12th goal of the season, but San Jose scored the next four goals to take control of the game.
Just 22 seconds after the Handzus goal, Wellwood scored his fifth goal of the season and it was 4-1 at the 5:33 mark on a wrister from the slot by Boyle that beat Quick cleanly.
Bernier then took the net and San Jose put one past him five minutes later when Thornton banged a rebound at the right side.
Devin Setoguchi made it a 6-1 contest with 27 seconds left in the second as he snapped a wrister into the net from the inside right circle.
Niemi made eight stops in the third to keep the Kings from mounting any attempt at a comeback.
Thornton has 305 goals and 694 assists over 992 games in his 13-year career…The Sharks, who have won six straight at home, play in Anaheim on Wednesday…San Jose and Los Angeles split the six-game series this season.