In the Crease: Sharks vs. Kings

Sharks head south for first battle with Kings

In the Crease: Sharks vs. Kings
October 30, 2013, 8:30 am
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This is the first of five games between the Sharks and Kings, and first meeting since LA eliminated San Jose in the second round of the playoffs last season. (AP)

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

Where they stand
Sharks: 10-1-1, 21 points, 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference
Kings: 8-5-0, 16 points, 5th Pacific Division, 8th Western Conference

Vitals
Sharks
Goals per game: 3.92 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 1.58 (2nd)
Power play: 21.8 percent (10th)
Penalty kill: 88.2 percent (3rd)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.46 (20th)
Goals-against per game: 2.54 (T – 9th)
Power play: 18.8 percent (18th)
Penalty kill: 82.1 percent (14th)

Probable lines
Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – James Sheppard
Patrick Marleau– Logan Couture – Tyler Kennedy
Marty Havlat – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
John McCarthy – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Brad Stuart
Scott Hannan – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Kings
Dwight King – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Mike Richards – Jeff Carter – Matt Frattin
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Slava Voynov – Willie Mitchell
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick (likely starter)
Ben Scrivens

Last game
Sharks: Tomas Hertl scored early and the Sharks never trailed in a 5-2 win in Ottawa on Sunday. San Jose is 3-1-0 on its five-game road swing, which concludes tonight. James Sheppard and Tommy Wingels each had a goal and an assist and Alex Stalock picked up the win in net in his first career NHL start with 38 saves. Andrew Desjardins and Joe Pavelski also scored.

Kings: Kyle Chipchura had a goal and an assist in leading the Phoenix Coyotes to a 3-1 win over the Kings last night at Jobing.com Arena. Shane Doan and Derek Morris also scored, and Los Angeles’ Jarret Stoll converted late in the third period to prevent a Mike Smith shutout. Ben Scrivens took the loss in net with 30 saves on 33 shots.

Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Antti Niemi. The Sharks’ goaltender got a much-deserved rest on Sunday, after being the only NHL player to that point to play every minute of every game for his team. He’ll be back in tonight trying to outduel Jonathan Quick, who was excellent in last season’s second round. Niemi has shutouts in two of his last three starts, including Saturday’s 2-0 Sharks win in Montreal.

Kings: Jonathan Quick. The Sharks’ nemesis also got a night off in his team’s last game, so he’ll almost certainly get the call tonight against San Jose. Although his numbers (2.53 GAA, .907 SP) are a bit down from his career averages, Quick has won four of his last five starts.

Injuries/Scratches
Sharks: Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), Brent Burns (face), Dan Boyle (head into boards) and Matt Nieto (hand) are out.

Kings: None.

Season/All-Time series
This is the first of five games between the Sharks and Kings, and first meeting since Los Angeles eliminated the Sharks in the second round of the playoffs last season. In 2013, the home team won all four regular season and seven playoff games.

The Sharks are 65-48-7-6 all-time against the Kings.

Los Angeles makes its first of three visits to SAP Center on Nov. 27. The Sharks' second and final game at Staples Center is on Dec. 19.

Quoteable
“That says a lot, not just because of the fact they are at the top of the league, but on most nights they go against the other team’s best line.” – Sharks assistant coach Larry Robinson, on Marc-Edourd Vlasic and Justin Braun leading the league with a +11 rating

Burning question
Which Pacific Division team in the biggest threat to the Sharks, and why? Leave your answer in the comments section below.