Sharks feel the power as they host Kings
Peter DeBoer likes the belief that the San Jose Sharks are showing in themselves as they hit the ice. They’ll need to continue that after reportedly getting some bad news about one of their top players.
Led by a red-hot power-play unit, the Sharks take on the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night at SAP Center.
The Sharks went 3-for-5 on the power play in regulation, and are 12-for-33 with the man-advantage over the last seven games (4-1-2). San Jose also has two power-play tallies in four straight home games.
On Dec. 7, the Sharks ranked 24th in power-play percentage (16.7). They’re now tied for eighth (22.2).
Los Angeles has surrendered at least one power-play goal in six of its last seven games.
“Right now, we feel confident. We’re hopping over the boards confident,” said DeBoer, the Sharks’ coach.
San Jose is 2-3-2 in its last seven at home against its in-state rival, but if the Sharks are going to notch a win, then they’ll have to do so without Logan Couture as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered last Saturday in a loss at Vancouver.
Couture, who leads the team in goals (15), game-winners (three) and points (26), told the San Jose Mercury News on Friday that he’s not returning the ice anytime soon.
“There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen to come back. You can’t just skate and then say you’re fine,” Couture said. “I’m not playing if I don’t feel good. It could be one game, it could be 10 games, it could be the whole season.
“With head injuries, you don’t know. There’s no timeline. Everyone’s different. Everyone handles it different. Everyone’s brain handles it different. These are usually injuries that are tough to judge.”
Apart from the usual dings that may keep a player out for a game or two, Couture’s longest stint off the ice came in 2015 when he missed 23 games with a broken right leg.
San Jose (18-11-4) and Western Conference-leading Los Angeles (22-10-4) split their first two matchups with each team winning on the road.
On Oct. 7, Anze Kopitar collected two goals and an assist to power the Kings to a 4-1 victory. The Sharks evened the series Nov. 12 when Melker Karlsson and Joel Ward notched third-period goals in a 2-1 victory.
San Jose opened a three-game homestand with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Kevin Labanc snapped a 23-game streak without a goal by capping a four-point night after regulation.
“It felt good, but it felt better winning the game,” said Labanc, who has a goal and eight assists in his last six contests. “… It was nice to get the two points and better ourselves in the standings.”
Sharks backup Aaron Dell has surrendered only 12 goals while winning each of his last five starts, and turned aside all nine shots faced in relief of Martin Jones during the loss to the Kings in October.
Jones, who has struggled mightily this month, will try again for his 100th NHL win should he start. Jones, who backed up Jonathan Quick from 2013-15, is 1-3-2 with a 4.08 goals-against average in six December starts. Overall, he has lost three straight starts, yielding four goals in each contest.
Los Angeles, which has dropped three of four on the road, is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. Dustin Brown, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, notched his second game-winning goal of the season to continue his rebirth in 2017-18.
The 14-year-veteran has 13 goals and 16 assists through 36 games. Over the previous five seasons, Brown averaged 14 goals and 16 assists in 74 games.
“That was fitting, poetic justice,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “Nothing is given here. Everything is earned. Dustin Brown has earned it. Some people are surprised at his play, but I am not.”
Brown has two goals and three assists in a three-game points streak versus San Jose. He trails only Kopitar (17 goals, 23 assists) for the team scoring lead.
The native of the former Yugoslavia has five goals and seven assists in 10 games this month, and Los Angeles is 6-0-1 in December when Kopitar records a point. He also has two goals and three assists in a three-game scoring run at SAP Center.
Quick, who’s allowed one goal in each of his last two starts, is 5-4-4 with a 2.23 GAA, .927 save percentage and two career shutouts in Northern California.
Backup Darcy Kuemper, who’s let to lose in regulation this season (5-0-3), is 1-2-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .918 save percentage and a shutout in five games (four starts) in San Jose.