It’s been four seasons since the Los Angeles Kings lost four
straight road games.
Now the Stanley Cup champions have to face a team that owns the
fewest regulation home losses that is in position to overtake them
in the standings.
Playoff positioning is at stake Tuesday night between these
Pacific Division rivals at the HP Pavilion, where the San Jose
Sharks have won five straight over the Kings.
Los Angeles (24-14-4) hasn’t lost four in a row on the road
since a five-game slide Feb. 25-March 13, 2009.
These teams are vying for home-ice advantage in the first round
of the postseason. The Kings are in fourth in the Western
Conference with 52 points while the Sharks (22-13-7) are fifth with
Starting a potential series between these teams in San Jose
could be a problem for the Stanley Cup champions, although coach
Darryl Sutter did not agree with the notion that the Sharks are
traditionally tough at home.
“Not traditionally,” he told the Kings’ official website. “This
year they are. I think they have one regulation loss. So I don’t
know if that’s a tradition. That’s this year, so that’s what it’s
based on. Teams change. Personnel changes. Half their team
There’s no debating that this venue has traditionally been tough
for the Kings. The Sharks are 23-6-2 in the last 31 home
San Jose is starting a four-game homestand after going 2-2-0 on
a trip capped by Monday’s 4-0 victory at Phoenix. Antti Niemi
stopped 35 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.
“A 4-0 win in a building we haven’t had a lot of success in
lately, it was a good way to end it,” coach Todd McLellan
Niemi is 13-1-4 with a 1.75 goals-against average at home this
season. He’s also 4-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA in six starts at HP
Pavilion against the Kings.
That includes a 4-3 victory March 14 in which Logan Couture had
two goals and an assist. The Kings evened the season series two
days later with a 5-2 home victory behind two goals from Kyle
Couture scored his 17th goal Monday to tie Patrick Marleau for
the team lead. He’s eagerly anticipating his club’s next game.
“We have a big game against LA … and we’re looking forward to
that one, so it’s good to get this one,” Couture said.
Marleau, meanwhile, has one goal in his last 10 games, although
he has 14 points in his last 10 versus the Kings.
Los Angeles has not played since Saturday’s 2-1 victory over
Anaheim. Drew Doughty, who has no points in his last five meetings
with San Jose, had a goal and an assist.
These teams also meet at Staples Center to close the season
“Every game has a different feel, regardless of the time of the
year,” Kings winger Justin Williams said. “But points are at a
premium now, we’re certainly pushing for the best playoff position
we can get.”
Kings center Mike Richards has seven points during a six-game