SAN JOSE, Calif. - Captain Joe Thornton set the tone by dishing out hits almost every chance he got. The rest of his San Jose teammates followed his lead as the Sharks wanted to send a message to the Los Angeles Kings in case these California rivals meet again with much more on the line in a few weeks. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored second-period goals and the Sharks clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs by beating the Kings 2-1 on Thursday night in a possible playoff preview. "I wanted to hit something tonight, thats all. That was the game plan," Thornton said. "Were starting to ramp up our game a little bit. That was just the case tonight. We might see these guys in 12 days or so, so just play hard and see what happens." Thornton matched his career-high with six hits and also nearly got into a fight with Slava Voynov in the second period as part of a physical game between two teams that have serious animosity toward each other. San Jose had a franchise-record 52 hits in all, including 10 by Tommy Wingels, as the Sharks didnt back down a bit against the powerful Kings. "I liked fact that we stood our ground and battled hard," coach Todd McLellan said. "The physical battles, theyre known to win a lot of those. We were in them for the most part." 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 and will play the Sharks in the first round unless San Jose passes Anaheim in the standings. "We play similar styles, its in-your-face hockey and if we do play them in playoffs it would be fun to watch," Nolan said. Of more immediate concern was an upper-body injury that knocked star defenceman Drew Doughty out midway through the first period. Doughty appeared to hurt his left shoulder while checking Tyler Kennedy. There was no word on the extent of Doughtys injury. "Anytime you lose a D-man especially one of his calibre its a big hole," defenceman Jake Muzzin said. "I thought we did well trying to replace him." These teams have met in two of the past three postseasons 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 years 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 couldnt control a shot by Tommy Wingels and Couture scored his 21st goal on a wraparound. "Thats probably the best weve played in a while, the most physical weve played in a while," Couture said. "Theyre a good team over there, but I felt tonight we were more physical. We played pretty well." The Kings threatened but couldnt 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 Martinezs point shot deflected off Jaret Stoll and then Nolan before it beat Niemi less than 4 minutes into the game. The Sharks didnt test Jones much early as most of the opening period was played in San Joses 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. Dave Robinson Jersey
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. His fellow Finn, 21 years his junior, had just arrived in Anaheim and was hoping to stick with the Ducks.RALEIGH, N.C. -- The divisions changed for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The results havent. The Hurricanes extended their home-ice dominance of their former Southeast Division rivals, beating them 5-1 on Friday night. Riley Nash and Alexander Semin scored 87 seconds apart in the first period. Brett Bellemore, Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera also scored, and Jeff Skinner had two assists to help the Hurricanes win their seventh in 10 games. "Its a little bit more fun when youre playing with the lead," Nash said. "In this league, especially, its tough to come from behind every night, so getting that lead is especially important." Carolina improved to 30-7-4 at PNC Arena against the Panthers, winning both meetings this season. Realignment sent the former division rivals in different directions, with the Hurricanes in the Metropolitan and Florida in the Atlantic. Carolina pulled even with fifth-place Washington with 61 points in its crowded division, while Florida remains firmly in seventh place in the Atlantic. "Its really disappointing to see where our expectations are, and my expectations and everybodys expectations have to be on the same page, and I think we have to raise them," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "We have to expect more from each other, and I expect more from them because its certainly not desperate hockey, and its certainly not where it needs to be." Eric Staal set the Hurricanes career record for shots on goal, passing Hall of Famer Ron Francis late in the second period. Staal finished with four shots, giving him 2,542. Anton Khudobin stopped 34 shots in his 16th straight appearance for Carolina. Nick Bjugstad scored for Florida, which enters the Olympic break having lost five of six. "We put ourselves in this situation," captain Ed Jovanovski said. Tim Thomaas stopped just 10 of the 14 shots he faced.dddddddddddd He was pulled with 15:24 left in the second after Tlusty tapped in a rebound to make it 4-1. Scott Clemmensen replaced him and stopped 16 shots. Ten Hurricanes appeared on the score sheet and Skinner was the only one with multiple points. "To be successful in the NHL, you cant rely on one line," Nash said. "You see the teams that had success in the past, win Stanley Cups, they have four lines that chip in and they have their big guns going like we do. Its been nice to see." Carolina pounced on the Panthers early in this one, with Nash and Semin striking in bang-bang fashion. Nash scored at 9:17 of the first when Tuomo Ruutu dug the puck out near the boards and slipped it toward the slot to Nash, who beat Thomas high. Semin then made it a two-goal game at 10:44 with a spinning wrist shot -- his third goal in two games this season against Thomas and the Panthers. "That was actually the game plan -- come out, just stay on them, get pucks behind them," Bellemore said. "Get shots to the net, keep getting chances and wear them out." After Bjugstad pulled Florida to 2-1 with a wrist shot that trickled past Khudobin, Bellemore restored Carolinas two-goal lead with a slap shot with 1:39 left in the first. "Once we got the lead, we kind of backed off and started to play a little more pond hockey," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Game got a little bit too open for us and it was an up-and-down kind of game, so we just had to tighten it up at times." NOTES: Staal, who assisted on Tlustys goal, has 36 points in 35 games. ... Ruutu skated in his 600th career game. ... Carolina improved to 16-1-4 when scoring first. ... Bellemore and Florida D Erik Gudbranson slugged it out with 5:29 left in the second. Bellemore ended the fight by slamming Gudbranson to the ice. ' ' '