Sharks, Kings square off in MLK day game (Jan 15, 2018)
LOS ANGELES -- The San Jose Sharks visit the Los Angeles Kings for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday matinee on Monday at Staples Center. Though in the mix for a postseason berth, both teams are trying to emerge from a stretch of mediocre play.
San Jose (22-13-6) posted a come-from-behind 6-5 overtime home victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
Winger Joonas Donskoi's second goal of the game at 19:44 of the third period with goaltender Aaron Dell pulled sent the game to the extra session. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's fifth goal of the season at 2:42 of overtime snapped a three-game losing streak as the Sharks emerged from their bye week.
In addition to Donskoi's and Vlasic's heroics, the Sharks' stars contributed to the win. Center Joe Thornton registered a goal and two assists, center Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist, and center Logan Couture added his team-leading 17th goal for San Jose's highest goal output this season.
"We had great energy and great legs," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "When Donskoi is healthy and on his game, he can be a dominant player like you saw tonight."
Defenseman Dylan DeMelo is expected to be available. He was placed on injured reserve Jan. 7 with the flu.
The matchup with Los Angeles is the start of a three-game road trip for San Jose in the fourth meeting this season between the teams.
The Sharks are looking for their third consecutive win over the Kings. San Jose dropped a 2-1 decision in Los Angeles on Oct. 7 but rallied for a 2-1 win on Nov. 12 at Staples Center and a 2-0 victory on Dec. 23 at HP Pavilion.
Los Angeles (24-14-5) dropped its third straight game and six of its last 10 (4-4-2) in a fight-filled 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.
The Kings trailed 3-0 early in the third period and rallied to within one score on goals by centers Anze Kopitar and Nick Shore but could not get equalizer against Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.
The southern California rivals squared off in the separate fights in a space of four seconds of game time less than three minutes in.
Los Angeles coach John Stevens spoke about the Kings' uneven play after the loss to Anaheim, saying he needs more from the entire roster.
"Our top guys have been really good for us," Stevens said. "I think they really carry the message for the hockey team as you would want as a coach. We just need some of our younger generation guys to just take a little more bite in games unlike the game tonight.
"And they've been good most of the year, but I just thought we needed more tonight."
Despite Los Angeles' second-place standing in the Pacific Division, the recent play by the Calgary Flames and the Ducks has tightened the divisional race.
The Kings are looking to improve their play inside the division as well as against the Western Conference if they are to return to the postseason after missing the playoffs last year.
Los Angeles plays 28 of its last 39 games against the West (15 against Pacific opponents, 13 against Central) and has a 5-6-3 record against Pacific opposition and 9-9-3 against all Western teams.
There could be some lineup changes for the Kings by game time.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin, who has missed the last two games on injured reserve, skated with the team during Sunday practice. Though not formally ruled available for the game against San Jose, he has progressed to the point where his activation is likely.
Winger Jonny Brodzinski was recalled from Los Angeles' AHL Ontario affiliate on Sunday. With Trevor Lewis missing practice, there is speculation that he may miss Monday's game.
Lewis took two heavy hits from Anaheim's Jared Boll on Saturday and his absence was deemed a "maintenance" day, but Brodzinski's presence is an indicator that Lewis may miss his first game of the season.