Kings-Sharks Preview

It’s been over a month since the Los Angeles Kings have dropped

consecutive games.

The San Jose Sharks’ slide began well over a month ago.

These Pacific Division rivals, however, are separated by only

two points in the crowded Western Conference standings heading into

Thursday night’s opener of a home-and-home set in San Jose.

The Kings (14-9-2) and Sharks (11-8-6) have yet to meet this

season, with a rematch set for Saturday at Staples Center.

Los Angeles is 11-4-0 since its last set of back-to-back defeats

Feb. 7-10. San Jose enters on an 0-2-2 slide with a 4-8-6 mark

since its seven-game win streak to start the season.

Anaheim has an 11-point lead in the Pacific Division, with the

division’s other four teams separated by four points. Los Angeles

has 30 points and San Jose 28.

“I think it’s important for us to realize that we got off to a

rough start and we’ve been playing better hockey as of late,”

Kings winger Dustin Brown said, “but if you look at the standings,

any night you’re not getting points, you’re falling. That’s just

the nature of the Western Conference and the shortened


The Sharks seemingly do not have much momentum after Tuesday’s

4-2 loss in St. Louis, but they believe they are poised for a

turnaround after outshooting the Blues 41-21.

“I thought it was one of our most complete games of the year,”

said forward Joe Thornton, who notched his 20th assist. “If we

continue to play like that we’re going to win a lot of games.”

San Jose went 4-2-0 against Los Angeles last season, with three

of the wins going past regulation.

Patrick Marleau registered a team-best seven points and Dan

Boyle a team-high four goals in the season series for San Jose,

which has won four straight home matchups. Anze Kopitar led the

Kings with nine points while Mike Richards had a team-high four


Jeff Carter only played in one of those meetings since the Kings

acquired him last Feb. 23. Carter leads the West with 17 goals,

although he has failed to score in his last two games.

Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter felt fatigue was the key factor

in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss at Phoenix one night after a 3-1 home victory

over Calgary.

“We were tired, they were fresh,” Sutter said. “It’s not too

hard to figure out.”

Brown and Richards both scored on the power play against the

Coyotes, but that came after the Kings fell behind 4-0.

“We’ve just got to bounce back, go into San Jose, regroup, and

get two points there,” defenseman Keaton Ellerby told the Kings’

official website.

Jonathan Quick, who has started the Kings’ last four games, went

0-1-2 with a 2.56 goals-against average last season at the HP


San Jose No. 1 goalie Antti Niemi is 3-1-0 with a 2.11 GAA in

five career regular-season home starts with the Sharks against the


The Sharks’ Brent Burns will play his first home game since Feb.

9, returning Tuesday after a seven-game absence due to a lower-body

injury. Coach Todd McLellan has moved the defenseman to