Kings-Sharks Preview

The Darryl Sutter era got off to a successful start for the Los
Angeles Kings. In his second game, Sutter will return to the arena
where he experienced his greatest coaching success.

Sutter tries to coach the Kings to their third straight win
overall and their second with him behind the bench Friday night
when they visit the San Jose Sharks, one of three teams tied atop
the Pacific Division.

Sutter hadn’t been an NHL head coach since his final season in
Calgary in 2005-06, but got another chance after Los Angeles fired
Terry Murray on Dec. 12. Following a four-game stint by interim
coach John Stevens, Sutter took his place behind the bench Thursday
at Staples Center.

“There’s nothing like game day. I’ve always said that,” Sutter
said Thursday night. “Even when I was sitting upstairs (as a
general manager), game day is still the best part of the whole
game. I was pretty focused all day, but I was thinking more about
how to use the players. These young guys are a big reason why I
came here.”

His debut with the Kings (16-14-4) proved a success, as Los
Angeles defeated Anaheim 3-2 in a shootout. Dustin Brown had the
deciding goal in the tiebreaker and also scored in the third
period. Mike Richards also scored in his return to the lineup after
missing eight games with a concussion for the Kings, while Drew
Doughty had two assists and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves through
overtime.

“Mike Richards is a tenacious player and it was good to get him
back in the lineup,” Sutter said. “He makes a big difference.”

Though he also had multi-year coaching stints with Chicago and
the Flames, Sutter lasted the longest and won the most in San Jose,
where he won 192 games from 1997-02 and took the Sharks to five
consecutive postseasons – reaching the second round twice. He ranks
second behind Ron Wilson (206) on the franchise’s all-time victory
list.

Posting another win Friday in San Jose could be a tall order for
Sutter’s Kings. Los Angeles also beat Toronto 3-2 in a shootout on
Monday, but has gone a club-record 13 consecutive games without
scoring more than two goals through regulation and overtime.

The Kings are 5-7-1 during that offensive drought, although one
of the wins was a 2-0 home victory over the Sharks (18-10-3) on
Nov. 28. Quick stopped 33 shots in that contest for his fourth
shutout of the season, while Richards and Ethan Moreau scored the
game’s only goals.

Los Angeles will need more offense to prevail Friday if San Jose
continues its current surge. The Sharks have scored 15 goals while
winning the first three on their six-game homestand.

The most impressive performance of that streak came Wednesday
against Tampa Bay, as Logan Couture scored two of San Jose’s
club-record five goals in the first 14:47. Benn Ferriero, Joe
Pavelski, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau also
scored for the Sharks, who rolled to a 7-2 win and their highest
scoring output of the season.

“The puck was following me around all night,” Couture said.
“They didn’t have much energy in the first period and we jumped on
them. We scored, and then scored and scored and scored.”

Couture and Marleau both also had goals in San Jose’s 4-2 home
victory over the Kings on Nov. 7. The Sharks have won three of the
last four meetings between these teams at HP Pavilion.