Kings-Sharks Preview

The San Jose Sharks are the three-time defending Pacific
Division champions, but the up-and-coming Los Angeles Kings look
poised to threaten that streak.

The teams meet Monday night in San Jose as the Kings try to
further distance themselves from the Sharks in the division.

Los Angeles (12-3-0) has won six straight and eight of nine to
rise to the top of the Western Conference. The Kings haven’t won a
division title since taking the Smythe in 1990-91, when Wayne
Gretzky led them to a 102-point season.

“We’ve been playing really solid hockey,” captain Dustin Brown
said. “We’re getting scoring from everyone and good goaltending. In
this game, it really comes down to details and everyone making sure
they’re doing the right things.”

Los Angeles beat the New York Islanders 5-1 on Saturday to
complete a 5-0 homestand. The Kings lead the NHL in penalty killing
at 92.2 percent and haven’t allowed a power-play goal in five
games. They’ve killed off 30 of 31 short-handed situations over the
last eight contests.

Brown and Justin Williams scored their team-leading eighth goals
and Jonathan Quick made 18 saves to improve to 10-1-0 with a 1.52
goals-against average. Quick is off to the best start for a Kings
goaltender since Robb Stauber began 9-1 with a tie in 1992-93
season – the last time Los Angeles reached the Stanley Cup
finals.

“It’s just attitude, every night. We’re going to play the same
way no matter who we’re playing,” Williams said. “We’ve had some
convincing wins and we’ve had some one-goal games that we’ve won.
So we’ve shown that we can do it every way.”

San Jose (8-5-2) topped the league with 113 points last season,
but hasn’t been able to keep up with the Kings. The Sharks sit
fourth in the division.

They appear to be warming up, though, winning two straight and
going 3-0-1 in their last four after being shut out in their two
previous games. The line of Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe and Logan
Couture lifted San Jose past Calgary 4-3 on Saturday, as each
player recorded a goal and two assists.

“They have been our best line,” coach Todd McLellan said.
“They’re around the net and when you’re playing as hard and doing
the right things as they’ve been, eventually you’re going to get
rewarded.”

Pavelski scored for the first time in seven games for San Jose,
which finishes up a five-game homestand against Los Angeles.

“There were some looks out there,” Pavelski said. “It’s been
working out so far but we have to keep chipping and make it an
everyday thing. We made it a little tough for ourselves, but it was
a good win at the end.”

Clowe’s assist on Couture’s third-period goal was the 100th of
his career.

“I feel like the puck is falling for me in the offensive zone,”
Couture said. “Clowe is such a great playmaker and goal scorer that
things are going well for me.”

Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots to win for just the second time in
six starts.

The teams split six meetings last season, but the Sharks are
5-1-1 in their last seven against the Kings at HP Pavilion.