Sharks, Kings seek to turn recent fortunes around
Monday, 11.07.2011 / 7:52 AMKINGS (6-4-3) at SHARKS (7-4-1)
TV: NHLN-CA, FS-W (HD), CSN-CA (HD)
Los Angeles 5-3-2; San Jose 6-3-1
This is the first of six meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. The Sharks took the 2010-11 season series with a 3-1-2 record, winning twice in the shootout.
Neither team is playing its best hockey right now with the Kings going winless in their last four games and the Sharks dropping two of their last three games. San Jose aims to pull even on their home record after beginning the season at 2-3-0, while Los Angeles will attempt to get back on the winning side of things as it has currently dropped its last two road games.
While Los Angeles has managed to gain at least a point in three of its last five games, it hasn't exactly been a very successful stretch recently. The Kings' most recent game saw them surrender a 2-1 lead with just under three minutes to play in regulation and eventually lose to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins in the shootout this past Saturday.
While Anze Kopitar continued his strong play as the center on the Kings' first line with a goal, assist and a plus-2 rating against Pittsburgh, it wasn't enough to get his team the much-needed two points in the standings.
"If we play like that, I like our chances in each and every game. We had a couple chances in the third and in OT but we couldn't score there. It didn't go our way tonight," Kopitar told Kings' reporter Rich Hammond.
San Jose has been impressive after regulation this season, going 3-1 in the overtime and shootout, but Saturday's 4-3 loss in overtime to the visiting Predators was a game that it would rather have back. The Sharks gave up a 3-1 third-period lead and eventually fell after the Preds' David Legwand tallied midway through overtime.
The Sharks started the game dominating on mostly all angles and outshooting Nashville 19-7 in the first period. But the strong effort resulted in a scoreless opening period and San Jose struggled to keep up the momentum throughout the rest of the game.
"Sometimes when you focus on the start as much as we did, we got it," coach Todd McLellan told NHL.com following the game. "But the back end of our game wasn't what we wanted. So, we're trying to find a full 60 minutes from our guys."
Kopitar has 3 goals and 6 points for the Kings in scoring in four of his last five games. … For the Sharks, Joe Pavelski
notched a goal and an assist in Saturday's loss and has managed at least a point in seven of his last eight games.
Kings forward Colin Fraser remains day-to-day with a foot injury. … Goalies Antero Niittymaki
(hip) and Alex Stalock
(knee) and forward Frazer McLaren
(hip) are on injured reserve for San Jose.
The Kings' scoring touch has been misplaced nearly all season long as they have scored two or fewer regulation goals in 11 of their first 13 games.
The Kings players are aware that they need to pick up their scoring pace quickly, but panic hasn't set in just yet.
"This team is good enough that it's going to come around for us. Guys are going to start scoring goals," defenseman Matt Greene told losangeleskings.com following Saturday's loss. "It's going to happen sooner or later by sticking with the system and doing what we do, cycling the puck, and getting chances is how it's going to happen."