NHL Gameday: Sharks conclude season series with biggest rival

NHL Gameday: Sharks conclude season series with biggest rival

Programming note – Sharks-Kings coverage starts today at 7:30 on NBCSN

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 26-16-2, 54 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Kings: 22-18-4, 48 points, 5th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***Logan Couture won’t play due to illness, so the Sharks will have three different lines for tonight (see below), leaving only the effective third line intact from Monday’s win over the Jets. 

Ryan Carpenter will center the fourth line, playing in his first NHL game since he scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, a 4-1 Sharks win.

“Last NHL game I played, [left with] good feelings, and stuff,” said Carpenter, who was promptly reassigned to the Barracuda afterwards. “It’s nice to be back here, hopefully have the same outcome tonight and come away with a win.”

***It was just one week ago when the Sharks were tied with Anaheim atop the Pacific Division in points, with two games in hand on the Ducks. But after dropping consecutive games in regulation against the Flames and Blues, San Jose now finds itself five points behind Anaheim (with three games in hand) and one point behind the Oilers (with two games in hand) despite Monday’s win over the Jets.

They still have a decent cushion on the Kings, up by six points after 44 games apiece, but they’d like nothing more than to put some distance between themselves and a division rival. They failed to do that in Calgary last Wednesday.

“These are all critical games now, we’re at that time of the season,” DeBoer said. “You look at the standings, and we’ve lived it here a little bit the last couple weeks. You start to feel a little comfortable where you’re at, you lose a couple games, and all of a sudden you’re back in the pack. It’s going to be like that from now until the end.”

San Jose is 8-6-2 against the Pacific this season.

***This is the fifth and final game of the season series between the Sharks and Kings, who have split the first four. The Kings have won the previous two meetings, including Jan. 3 at SAP Center, 2-1 in overtime.

This will be the Sharks’ final trip of the regular season to Southern California, as they have just one games left with the Ducks at SAP Center.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Chris Tierney. The Sharks’ third line center posted his first multiple-point game of the season on Monday against Winnipeg, with a goal and an assist. That ended a stretch of just one assist in 13 games for Tierney. The Sharks have surely been looking for a bit more production from the 22-year-old, now in his third season, so perhaps be can build off of his most recent performance.

Kings: Tanner Pearson. The winger has at least one point in eight of his last 12 games, and scored the overtime winner against the Sharks on Jan. 3 at SAP Center. His 13 goals on the season is second on the team only to Jeff Carter’s 23, while his plus-nine rating leads the Kings.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Melker Karlsson – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Patrick Marleau – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Ryan Carpenter – Tommy Wingels

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Kings
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Nic Dowd – Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Kevin Gravel – Matt Greene

Peter Budaj
Jeff Zatkoff

INJURIES

Sharks: Logan Couture (illness), Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.

Kings: Jonathan Quick (groin) and Tyler Toffoli (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“I’m trying not to try too much. Just do the little things, keep working hard, have fun out there, and enjoy the process.” – Timo Meier

Logan Couture to miss Sharks-Kings game

Logan Couture to miss Sharks-Kings game

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks will be without second line center Logan Couture when they play the Kings at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

Couture battled through an illness on Monday against the Jets, according to coach Pete DeBoer, but did not make the trip to Southern California.

“Just came down with a little bit of a bug. Played through it last game,” DeBoer said. “Just didn’t feel like, one, he’d be able to play, and two, that we’d travel and expose him to the rest of the group. So he’s at home, and we’ve called up [Ryan] Carpenter and he’ll play.”

When asked if Couture could potentially play against Tampa Bay on Thursday, DeBoer said: “Yeah, I think so. It’s nothing, from my understanding, more than a bug.”

Couture missed the last nine minutes of Monday’s 5-2 win over Winnipeg after blocking a Toby Enstrom shot with his right hand, but DeBoer said his absence was not related to that incident.

In 44 games, Couture has 27 points (14g, 13a). He has not missed a game yet this season.

In his absence, Patrick Marleau centered the second line with wingers Mikkel Boedker and Kevin Labanc at the morning skate, while Melker Karlsson replaced Marleau on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Carpenter will play his first game with the Sharks since Nov. 30, when he scored his first career goal at Staples Center.