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Sharks 3, Kings 2

February 6, 1997

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Amid all the penalties and fighting, Ron Sutter came up with the game-winning goal.

Sutter, on the ice largely because four of his teammates were thrown out for their role in a brawl, scored on a power play with 4:35 remaining, and the San Jose Sharks came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Wednesday night.

``Even when you’re sitting, you try to stay ready, and that’s what I do,″ said Sutter, who has seen limited ice time as a member of San Jose’s third line. ``When you lose guys, the guys who haven’t been playing have got to step it up. The big thing is we battled back and we were able to beat a team that was ahead us.″

The Sharks registered their 20th win to match last season’s total. They also climbed out of the Pacific Division cellar with their third win this season over the Kings, who dropped into last place.

``Obviously, we lost a lot of players,″ said Bernie Nicholls, who had an assist, his third of the night, on the game-winner. ``The thing about Sutter, when he gets his opportunity he’s going to give his best and he did tonight.″

The Sharks scored all three goals after a second-quarter melee triggered by the Kings’ Matt Johnson, who shoved Andrei Nazarov into the boards and hit him with his fists and stick while he was down on the ice.

A ferocious brawl, even by hockey standards, ensued. When it was over, seven players drew game misconducts _ four Sharks and three Kings _ and were ejected. The two teams combined for 180 penalty minutes, a Sharks franchise record.

Following the game, the Sharks said Nazarov fractured a cheekbone in the melee and will be out indefinitely.

Kings coach Larry Robinson said San Jose’s Al Iafrate instigated the brawl by going after Johnson with his stick.

``Iafrate started it with a two-hander to Johnson’s head.″

Said Iafrate: ``I wasn’t the guy spearing someone. I don’t think I started anything.″

Fittingly, the decisive score came with the Kings’ Rob Blake sent to the penalty box for four minutes for high-sticking Shean Donovan in the neck.

Marcus Ragnarsson picked up a loose puck to start a 3-on-2 break. He passed off to Nicholls, who carried it into the Los Angeles zone before sending the puck to Sutter in the slot. From there, Sutter directed it into the net past goaltender Stephane Fiset.

``We showed a lot of life, a lot of composure coming back like we did,″ San Jose goaltender Kelly Hrudey said. ``I think you’re going to see more of these kinds of games. The games mean more now. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty and every game is important.″

The Sharks tied it at 2 on Viktor Kozlov’s 12th goal with 18:08 remaining in the third period. He skated in from the left wing to the top of the slot and sent a wrist shot past Fiset, who had blanked the Sharks until the final four seconds of the second period.

After battling through a scoreless first period, the Kings scored consecutive goals in the second to go up 2-0. The Sharks pulled to within a goal with four seconds left in the period when Jeff Friesen knocked the puck into the net during a goal-mouth scramble.

``We lost the game with four seconds to go in the second period,″ Robinson said. ``We made a soft play in the corner, didn’t clear the puck and they came back and scored.″

Sean O’Donnell finished a 2-on-2 break by scoring his first goal of the season and putting the Kings in front with the opening score.

The Kings went up 2-0 on Ray Ferraro’s power-play score, his 19th goal of the season. O’Donnell launched a shot toward the net from just inside the blue line and Ferraro, standing beside the net, tipped it in with his stick.

Midway through the second period, Johnson, apparently retaliating for Nazarov’s earlier charging penalty on goaltender Fiset, pushed Nazarov into the boards.

While Nazarov was on his hands and knees on the ice, Johnson kneed him, punched him in the back and hit him with his stick, triggering an all-out brawl that involved all the players on the ice except the goalies. At one point in the melee, an official trying to break up a fight was dragged down to the ice by one of the fighting pairs.

Johnson received the most severe penalties, drawing a match penalty, which means a suspension, a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Also tossed were San Jose’s Iafrate, Owen Nolan, Greg Hawgood and Nazarov and the Kings’ Dan Blysma and Barry Potomski.

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