Sharks look to clinch Pacific title vs. L.A.

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Sharks look to clinch Pacific title vs. L.A.

April 4, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEOLOS ANGELES (45-27-6) vs.SHARKS (46-23-9)

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California.

SAN JOSE (AP) -- A 7-0-1 surge has left the Sharks needing one win to clinch the Pacific Division for the fourth consecutive season.

The only loss in that span came against the Los Angeles Kings, who find themselves on the verge of back-to-back postseason appearances thanks to a impressive stretch of their own.

The Sharks, winners of five in a row at home, can avenge that defeat and secure the Pacific title when they host the Kings on Monday night.

San Jose (46-23-9) suffered its lone defeat in the past eight games March 24, falling 4-3 in a shootout at Los Angeles. The Sharks won their third in a row since that loss Saturday, overcoming a 2-0 deficit after one period to beat Anaheim 4-2.

NOTEBOOK: Nichol could return for Sharks this week

"We were talking about how we worked so hard as of late to get back on top of our division," forward Devin Setoguchi said after recording a goal and two assists. "Just to let it slip like that and have a bad period wasn't something we wanted to do. We worked so hard and it's so easy to fall right back into a hole."

Left wing Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist to give him 10 goals and seven assists in his last nine games.

The Sharks, who have outscored opponents 14-3 during their three-game run, will end the Pacific race with any kind of victory Monday. San Jose is also focused on the battle with Detroit for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference -- and making sure it doesn't lose home-ice advantage in the first round.

"We're in a race for second," Setoguchi told the Sharks' official website. "We can't catch Vancouver. We're not going to just sit back. L.A. and Phoenix are a few points back. We have a goal to get second and try to get home ice."

The Kings (45-27-6) are in a fourth-place tie with the Coyotes, with both teams five points behind the Sharks. Los Angeles, though has a game in hand over Phoenix.

The Kings are also surging as the season winds down, defeating Dallas 3-1 on Saturday for their fifth win in six games. Los Angeles has gone 9-2-1 in its last 12, and with another victory Monday can secure its second straight playoff berth.

"We just found a way to do it again," forward Jarret Stoll said. "We found a way to get the points, and that's all that matters."

Captain Dustin Brown, who scored twice against the Sharks last month, had a goal Saturday and has five goals and two assists in his last five games. Defenseman Matt Greene and right wing Wayne Simmonds also scored against the Stars.

Los Angeles has been rolling despite the absences of Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, neither of whom are expected to return before the playoffs.

"We've been seeing that guys are stepping up, and we've been playing well without them," Simmonds said of Kopitar and Williams, who are tops on the team with 73 and 57 points, respectively. "It would be nice to have them back, but we can't worry about that right now."

Jonathan Quick made 24 saves Saturday and has gone 4-1-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average in his last five starts. Quick had posted a 1.81 GAA in winning five of six on the road prior to allowing three goals in a 3-1 loss at Vancouver on Thursday.

Quick is 2-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA in his career at HP Pavilion, where he stopped 24 shots in a 4-0 win Dec. 27.

San Jose counterpart Antti Niemi is also thriving, earning his 20th win in 27 starts by making 20 saves against the Ducks. Niemi is 4-1-2 with a 1.81 GAA versus the Kings.

The Sharks, 2-1-2 against the Kings, haven't lost the season series since 2001-02.

Captain Joe Thornton, three points away from reaching 1,000 for his career, saw his season high-tying five-game point streak end Saturday. He has managed one assist in his last six matchups with Los Angeles.

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

SAN FRANCISCO — At this point Bruce Bochy has had plenty of experience working young infielders into his everyday lineup, so he knew exactly which move to turn to when Christian Arroyo dropped into a wicked slump.

With Arroyo hitless in his last 21 at-bats, Bochy sat him Saturday night against the Braves. His plans could always change, of course, but Bochy said he planned to sit Arroyo at least one more game. It’s a move he used most notably in 2013 to help Brandon Belt get back on track.

Belt was in a 1-for-19 rut when Bochy kept him out of the starting lineup for an entire series in Philadelphia. He had just one pinch-hit appearance, but he returned for the opener of the next series in Tampa Bay, notching three hits and a homer. Belt batted .346 the rest of the way.

Asked about that experience and Arroyo's current one, Belt at first made a different point.

“Arroyo has actually been really good for us,” he said. “That road trip we just had, we faced a lot of really good pitchers. There’s nothing for him to hang his head about.”

Belt has actually had several “clear your head” breaks over the years.

“It allows you to reset a little, and with the pressure, you can release that a little bit,” he said. “For me (in 2013) it forced me to make (mechanical) changes and when you have time off you see everything more clearly. You can make changes or go back to something that was working for you before. He shouldn’t look at this as a timeout. It doesn’t need to be a bad thing. You can make adjustments and it can be a good thing.”

Bochy originally planned to rest Arroyo on Thursday in Chicago, but Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring needed a day. Arroyo started at second Friday against a lefty but got the full night off Saturday. With Conor Gillaspie sidelined for several more days by a tight back and Hunter Pence out the rest of the homestand, there's time for the Giants to contemplate what they want to do going forward.

“We’ll get this sorted out,” Bochy said. “We’ve (worked) him pretty hard. This is to give him a chance to catch his breath, get his mind right, and work on some things.”

A's lineup: Alonso returns, batting fifth vs Yankees

A's lineup: Alonso returns, batting fifth vs Yankees

The A's get a big back back in the lineup Sunday in New York as they look to win a series against the Yankees.

Oakland A's (22-26)

1. Mark Canha (R) CF
2. Stephen Vogt (L) DH
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Josh Phegley (R) C
8. Matt Joyce (L) RF
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Andrew Triggs -- RHP

New York Yankees (28-18)

1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. Gary Sanchez (R) C
3. Matt Holliday (R) DH
4. Starlin Castro (R) 2B
5. Aaron Judge (R) RF
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
8. Chris Carter (R) 1B
9. Ronald Torreyes (R) 3B
Michael Pineda -- RHP