LOS ANGELES -- Watching his team lose a 4-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night was bad enough.

But Sharks coach Todd McLellan had more to be worried about than the two points after star rookie Tomas Hertl left the game late in the first period following a knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown.

"He's our leading (goal) scorer," McLellan said. "He didn't return to the lineup. Am I concerned? Of course I am. Very concerned."

McLellan said he had not yet talked to the team's medical staff to get any specifics on the injury to Hertl's right knee. As for the play itself -- which earned Brown a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct -- McLellan noted it likely would be reviewed by the NHL and chose not to pass additional judgment.

"They're going to deal with it," the coach said. "Let's leave it there."

The game itself was still scoreless when Hertl, whose 15 goals are second on the Sharks to Patrick Marleau and pace all NHL rookies, left the game with a little more than a minute left in the opening period.

But the Sharks failed to score on the power play that followed, and it didn't take long for Los Angeles to get rolling as the home team in this series won for a 15th consecutive time. And it was the Kings' star rookie -- goaltender Martin Jones -- who earned the game's first star as he not only boosted his record to 7-0 but also scored his first NHL point.


Advertisement

The Kings jumped to a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli, both on long shots that it looked as if Sharks goalie Antti Niemi was in position to keep out of the net. Los Angeles added goals by Jeff Carter and Dwight King in the third period before Marleau ruined Jones' bid for a fourth shutout with 2:10 left in the game.

McLellan acknowledged Niemi was not at the top of his game but lumped him in with several of his other players rather than single him out.

"Nemo is like some others on our team, some go-to guys that have to step up and bring their 'A' game a little bit more," McLellan said. "He knows that, we know that, his teammates know it. But we're talking about one individual that wears the pads. The focus can't just go on him."

Logan Couture's scoring struggles continued, as he was credited with three shots on net while six others -- including one from point-blank range on an early power play -- went wide.

That kind of missed opportunity seemed to trouble McLellan the most.

"Two of our best opportunities came on the first couple power plays and we didn't even hit the net," he said, singling out Couture and Hertl. "When you play against this team, you don't get that many chances, so you've at least got to make the goaltender work. And we didn't do that."

The Sharks were already down 2-0 when they seriously tested Jones for the first time late in the second period when a shot by Justin Braun bounced off the end boards to Joe Pavelski just to the left of the Kings goalie. Pavelski scored on an almost identical play in St. Louis on Tuesday night, but this time he couldn't control the puck.

The play continued with Tommy Wingels trying for a wraparound that banked off Jones' pad and almost crossed the goal line before the rookie managed to get a glove on it.

The Sharks were feeling bad for Hertl himself as well preparing for their immediate future, possibly without him.

"It's tough," Joe Thornton said, "I don't know how long he's going to go out for. I didn't see the play, but you know he's going to be out for a little bit, yeah."

SATURDAY'S GAME

Dallas (17-12-5) at Sharks (21-8-6), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA