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.