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Couture leads Sharks past Kings 4-3

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JOSH DUBOW | March 15, 2013 01:29 AM EST | AP

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Matt Irwin and Logan Couture made Los Angeles pay for retaliating by scoring power-play goals after Jake Muzzin started a fight to help the San Jose Sharks snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.

Couture added a second goal and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks, who earned just their third regulation win in 21 games. Antti Niemi made 34 saves and was the beneficiary of San Jose's highest scoring game since Jan. 27.

The victory was the 207th for coach Todd McLellan, breaking the franchise record set by Ron Wilson.

Dustin Brown scored twice and Dwight King added a goal for Los Angeles. Jonathan Quick was lifted after allowing three goals on 12 shots as the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings lost consecutive games for the first time in more than a month.

The game turned midway through the second period after Andrew Desjardins flattened Los Angeles' Colin Fraser with a legal shoulder check behind the Kings' net. Muzzin took exception to the hit and started a fight with Desjardins that led to the key power play when Muzzin got four extra minutes of penalties for instigating a fight while wearing a facemask.

Irwin capitalized for San Jose when he scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle that appeared to fool Quick, giving San Jose a 2-0 lead.

The Sharks scored again on the second power play when Couture blasted a shot from just inside the blue line off a blind pass from Joe Thornton for his 11th goal of the season. That led to the early exit for Quick, who also allowed five goals in a loss at Phoenix on Tuesday.

Jonathan Bernier kept the Kings in the game when he stopped Adam Burish on a partial breakaway with Los Angeles on the power play. That led directly to Brown's 10th goal at the other end, cutting San Jose's lead to 3-1.

Couture restored the three-goal lead in the opening minute of the third period after Burns caused a turnover to set up a 2-on-0 breakaway.

Brown added his second goal late in the third period, giving him 11 on the season. King scored on a rebound with 3:20 to play but Los Angeles couldn't get the equalizer as Niemi stopped Jeff Carter and Justin Williams in the closing seconds.

This game started a crucial stretch for the Sharks, who had lost 14 of 18 following a franchise record 7-0 start to the lockout-shortened season. San Jose hits the road after this for five games, beginning Saturday night in Los Angeles.

The Sharks have lost nine of 13 road games this season and can afford few slipups in the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race. San Jose and Los Angeles are in a three-way tie for fifth place with 30 points, one point ahead of Detroit and Phoenix.

The Kings thoroughly dominated the first period but ended up on the short end of a 1-0 score when Burns got to a loose puck in front of the net and knocked it past Quick for his second goal in two games since moving from the blue line to forward.

Niemi made that lead stand up through 20 minutes, stopping 16 shots in the opening period.

NOTES: The Sharks improved to 8-1-4 at home this season. ... The Kings had gotten at least a point in their previous five games against San Jose. ... Los Angeles last lost consecutive games on Feb. 7 and 10 at Nashville and Detroit. ... Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar played his 500th career NHL game.