In the Crease: Sharks meet Kings in potential playoff preview

In the Crease: Sharks meet Kings in potential playoff preview
April 3, 2014, 9:45 am
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The Kings have won three of the first four meetings of the season series. (USATSI)

Where they stand

Sharks: 48-20-9, 105 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 3rd Western Conference
Kings: 45-26-6, 96 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 6th Western Conference

Playoff watch

The Sharks trail Anaheim by three points in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have one game in hand and have clinched the tiebreaker of more regulation/overtime wins. Anaheim erased a 2-0 third period deficit to beat Edmonton on Wednesday, 3-2.

If the playoffs started today, the Sharks would host the Los Angeles Kings.

[RELATED: Sharks' McLellan not concerned with outside recognition]

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks escaped with a 5-4 win against Edmonton on Tuesday, getting goals from five different players. Patrick Marleau’s power play goal was the game-winner, and Dan Boyle added one goal and one assist to extend his point streak to five games. The Sharks host Nashville on Saturday to close out a three-game homestand, and then don’t play again until Wednesday in Anaheim.

Kings: Los Angeles clinched a playoff spot with a 4-0 home shutout of Phoenix last night. Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar all had a goal and an assist, while Jonathan Quick had to make just 17 saves in recording his sixth shutout.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Tommy Wingels. The Sharks forward ended a 10-game scoring drought with a goal against the Oilers, and last time these two teams met, Wingels tried to engage Dustin Brown in a fight -- twice. Brown, of course, ended Tomas Hertl’s regular season with a knee-on-knee hit on Dec. 19. Wingels continues to lead the Sharks in hits with 203.

[RELATED: McLellan says rookie Hertl progressing]

Kings: Anze Kopitar. The Kings center, whose named has been mentioned lately as a potential Selke Trophy candidate, has 22 points in hits last 20 games (9g, 13a) and leads Los Angeles in scoring with 65 points. His +30 rating is tied for fifth in the league among forwards.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.95 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.35 (4th)
Power play: 17.3 percent (19th)
Penalty kill: 84.1 percent (8th)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.43 (T -25th)
Goals-against per game: 2.05 (1st)
Power play: 15.6 percent (25th)
Penalty kill: 83.1 percent (12th)

[RELATED: NHL standings]

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Matt Nieto – James Sheppard – Tyler Kennedy
Marty Havlat – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Kings
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Jordan Nolan – Jarret Stoll – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Willie Mitchell

Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (soreness/right knee surgery) and Adam Burish (left hand) are out.

Kings: Dwight King (undisclosed) is doubtful.

Season/All-Time series

The Kings have won three of the first four meetings of the season series. The Sharks’ lone win came on Nov. 27 in San Jose, 3-2 in a shootout.

Jeff Carter has four points to lead the Kings (2g, 2a), while no Sharks player has more than two points against Los Angeles.

The Sharks are 66-50-7 all-time against the Kings, with seven ties. The home team is 19-1-1 in the last 21 meetings, including playoffs.

Quoteable

“I still think we’ve got our sights set on winning our division, even though that’s going to be pretty tough to do. You want to go out and play your best and get some confidence should we see [the Kings] in a couple weeks in the playoffs.” – Dan Boyle

Burning question

What would be the keys to a first round playoff series between the Sharks and the Kings? Leave your answer in the comments section below.