The San Jose Sharks' lengthy point streak has pushed them into playoff position but they still have a significant gap to make up if they want to catch the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings.
The Sharks will try to cut that deficit Sunday night while the Kings look to avoid matching their longest losing streak this season.
San Jose's 7-0-1 record since Jan. 8 has moved it from sixth in the Pacific to second, but the Sharks (25-18-3) still trail the Kings by eight points. Joe Pavelski aided his team's chances in that race by scoring with 1:24 remaining in a 4-3 victory against Minnesota on Saturday, his league-best eighth game-winning goal.
San Jose is 4-0-1 in its last five home games after losing 12 of its first 17 there.
“We've got a reputation of playing pretty well in this building, and we haven't played that well this year,” forward Logan Couture said. “It's nice to start winning again. We're on a nice little streak right now.”
The Sharks lost 4-1 to the Kings (29-15-3) on home ice Oct. 22 but won in their two visits to Los Angeles, including a 5-1 rout Oct. 7 in the season opener for both teams. They prevailed 5-3 in the most recent matchup Dec. 22 with Pavelski scoring two of his team's three third-period goals.
Pavelski had a goal and two assists Saturday after producing one assist in his previous four games. Joe Thornton has been one of the most consistent Sharks forwards of late with two goals and nine assists in an eight-game point streak.
Thornton also has five goals and 17 assists in his last 17 contests. Tomas Hertl scored his third goal in four games Saturday.
Thornton has two goals and three assists against Los Angeles this season while Pavelski has a team-best seven points (three goals, four assists). Defenseman Brent Burns has tallied five goals and two assists in his past five matchups, but he has one assist in his last five games overall.
This time, Burns and the Sharks will face a team that's seeking to avoid its first three-game slide since its 0-3-0 start this season. Los Angeles was blanked 3-0 by visiting Minnesota on Thursday and was edged 3-2 in Arizona on Saturday.
Jordan Martinook scored the go-ahead goal against Jonathan Quick on a breakaway just 22 seconds into the third period.
“We all know it's another divisional game and those always have a little more extra weight. It's about keeping pace,” captain Dustin Brown said. “After losing a divisional game, it makes the next one more important.”
The Kings might give Jhonas Enroth another attempt to earn his first win since Nov. 12 on Sunday. The backup netminder is 0-3-1 with a 3.22 goals-against average in his last five appearances, but he's 4-0-0 with a 1.19 GAA in five lifetime games against the Sharks, including a 39-save performance in a 4-1 win in San Jose on Oct. 22.
Tyler Toffoli has five goals and one assist in his last six matchups, and he scored twice in last month's loss. Jeff Carter has three goals and six assists in his past seven games against San Jose.
Milan Lucic said his right hand went numb after he punched Arizona's Kevin Connauton in the face Saturday but X-rays were negative. The Kings forward was given a game misconduct while Connauton received a two-minute penalty for his slash, which caused Lucic's reaction.
Los Angeles is playing its sixth game in nine days.