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Bad luck comes in three in the third for the Kings in 5-3 loss to San Jose

Ah, the ghosts, and glory, of Dec. 22 past …

The Kings encountered the former, falling victim to another third-period breakdown as they lost, 5-3, to their rivals, the San Jose Sharks, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

In all, they gave up four unanswered goals, squandering a 3-1 lead. A seemingly efficient game vanished in the third after they'd led 3-2 through two periods. But the Sharks scored back-to-back power-play goals, both by Joe Pavelski, just 1:32 apart to grab the lead and managed to hold on.

Pavelski had a three-point night, and 16 of his 18 goals this season have come on the road. His first goal came at 6:06 of the third, a mere four seconds after Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff went off for high sticking Chris Tierney.

He put the Sharks ahead for good at 7:38 on another power-play effort after Kings left wing Milan Lucic received a slashing penalty.

San Jose sealed the win with an empty-netter by Brent Burns with 1:10 remaining after the Kings had pulled goalie Jonathan Quick for an extra attacker.

For the Sharks, it was their second win against the Kings in two meetings at Staples Center this season.

Thus, a five-point night, combined, from the recently reunited line of Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli went for naught. Toffoli scored twice, his 13th and 14th goals, Pearson had two assists and Carter recorded one assist, winning the draw to set up Toffoli's first goal.

This was the Kings' first loss at home in seven games. They had been attempting to put the rest of the Pacific Division a bit further back in the rearview mirror heading into the holidays.

San Jose pulled within six points of the Kings, and third-place Vancouver, which also won Tuesday against Tampa Bay, is seven points back.

“We've won one of our last five. There's nothing to like about that,” Quick said.

The Kings have given up five goals in back-to-back losses and have allowed five goals in three of their last four games, a disturbing trend for the Kings.

The final game before the brief NHL Christmas break is often fraught with difficulty, with one eye closely fixed on the calendar.

Last season, the Kings blew a late third-period lead to Calgary, also on Dec. 22, losing in overtime as then-rookie Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames had his first career hat trick. (Gaudreau, incidentally, had another hat trick Tuesday.)

Other games on this date have produced happier memories for the Kings. Darryl Sutter coached his first game with the Kings four years ago, a victory over the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout.

Coming off a six-game trip that included three games in Eastern Canada, the Kings showed few ill effects early on in the game, taking a 2-0 lead in the opening 4:32 against their former teammate, Sharks goalie Martin Jones.

Toffoli's first goal, his 13th of the season, came just after the draw as he beat Jones on the glove side at 1:40. They made it, 2-0, when Trevor Lewis redirected Dustin Brown's wrist shot past Jones at 4:32.

For Lewis, it was his third of the season and first goal since Nov. 3. He had missed seven games with an upper-body injury before returning to the lineup Saturday at Toronto.

The other Sharks goals came from Joe Thornton (14th) and Burns. Burns scored late in the second period, cutting the Kings' lead to 3-2 at 18:45, not long after his miscue on the blue line led to an outnumbered attack and Toffoli's second goal of the game.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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