In the Crease: Sharks look to end LA losing streak

McLellan on Havlat: 'We're starting to see him come around'

In the Crease: Sharks look to end LA losing streak
December 19, 2013, 10:30 am
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Drew Doughty has scored three points in the season series between the Sharks and Kings. (USATSI)

Programming note 
Sharks-Kings coverage gets underway at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 21-7-6, 48 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 5th Western Conference
Kings: 23-8-4, 50 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 3rd Western Conference

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 3.21 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.32 (7th)
Power play: 18.4 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 82.8 percent (14th)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.63 (14th)
Goals-against per game: 1.89 (1st)
Power play: 16.1 percent (20th)
Penalty kill: 86.0 percent (4th)

Probable lines

Sharks

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Marty Havlat
James Sheppard - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
Tyler Kennedy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Brad Stuart

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Kings
Dwight King – Anze Kopitar – Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Tyler Toffoli
Linden Vey – Trevor Lewis – Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene

Martin Jones (likely starter)
Ben Scrivens

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks snapped a four-game road losing streak with a 4-2 win over St. Louis on Tuesday. Marty Havlat and Matt Irwin had a goal and assist each while Justin Braun and Patrick Marleau had two assists apiece in the win. Antti Niemi made 20 saves, as San Jose completed a three-game season sweep of the Blues. San Jose concludes a three-game road trip tonight after splitting the first two games, including a 3-2 loss to Nashville on Saturday.

Kings: Los Angeles won for the seventh time in eight games with a 3-0 win over Edmonton at home on Tuesday, as rookie goalie Martin Jones won his sixth straight start with a 24-save shutout. The Kings have outscored their opponents 26-10 over the last eight games (7-1-0), and their 23-8-4 record is the best mark they’ve had after 35 games in franchise history. Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Dustin Brown scored in the win over Edmonton.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Marty Havlat. The Sharks winger has struggled all season to produce offense, despite plenty of time on the second power play unit, and was on the team’s fourth line less than a week ago. He has played better lately, and recorded his second multiple-point game of the season on Tuesday in St. Louis after getting bumped up the Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau line.

Kings: Mike Richards. The Kings are one of the few NHL teams that can argue they match up well down the middle with the Sharks, and that includes fellow centers Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll. Richards has quietly put up 27 points for the Kings (6g, 21a) and it will be interesting to see which centers Darryl Sutter matches up against the Sharks’ top lines.

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Scott Hannan (upper body) is questionable. Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery) and Adam Burish (back surgery) are out.

Kings: Willie Mitchell (head) is doubtful. Jonathan Quick (groin) and Colin Fraser (head) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks and Kings have split two earlier meetings, with each team defending its home ice. Los Angeles won on Oct. 30 on an overtime goal by Anze Kopitar, 4-3, while San Jose took a 3-2 shootout win at SAP Center on Nov. 27.

Drew Doughty and Mike Richards lead the Kings with three points in the season series. Joe Pavelski, Tyler Kennedy and Logan Couture have two points apiece in the two games against Los Angeles.

All-time, the Sharks are 66-48-7-7 against the Kings. This is the last visit the Sharks make to Staples Center this season, while the Kings visit SAP Center on Jan. 27 and April 3.

Quoteable

“I don’t think any of us are sitting in the room before the game going ‘this is impossible, I just can’t do this.’ That’s not the case for us.”Brad Stuart, on the Sharks’ struggles at Staples Center

Burning question

Would you like to see the Sharks and Kings face each other again in the postseason, or would you rather avoid them altogether?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.