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The San Jose Sharks admit they played below expectations in the first month of the season. The NHL's schedule maker, however, didn't do them any favors in October.
The Sharks play at HP Pavilion for the first time in two weeks Friday night when they face the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings in the front end of a home-and-home series.
Expected to be among the league's elite teams after finishing with a franchise-record 107 points last season, San Jose (6-5-1) has only been mediocre thus far.
Despite the relatively slow start, the Sharks still lead their division after playing nine of their first 12 games on the road. They have a much more favorable slate in November with eight of 12 contests at home - all but one against Pacific Division opponents.
"It's been a roller coaster," Sharks coach Ron Wilson told the team's official Web site. "We need consistency more than anything. Some of it is youth and some is immaturity. Not what you'd think from the young guys, but some of the veterans in leading the whole group."
While top center Joe Thornton is off to a fast start with four goals and 13 points, most of the Sharks' other top forwards are struggling. Former 56-goal scorer Jonathan Cheechoo has two goals in 12 games while captain Patrick Marleau also has been limited to two goals.
"We're not where we want to be," Cheechoo said. "Everyone is disappointed in the start. We don't want to be just hovering around .500."
Trailing by one midway through the third period, San Jose was in danger of losing its third straight Monday at Dallas before Devin Setoguchi made his NHL debut a memorable one.
Setoguchi - the eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft - scored the tying goal at 11:53 and added the winner less than three minutes later.
"It's definitely thrilling," Setoguchi said. "I never would have dreamed for it to happen this way."
The Sharks scored their final three goals on three consecutive shots en route to a 4-2 victory.
"I was definitely nervous in the first period," Setoguchi said. "I was just kind of scrambling out there. But I settled down and coach gave me a chance in the third."
Center Jeremy Roenick was held without a point for the third straight game and is two goals shy of becoming the third American-born player with 500.
The Kings (6-7-0) were cooled off with a 4-1 loss to surging Columbus on Wednesday that ended a four-game win streak. Kyle Calder had the lone goal for Los Angeles, which outscored opponents 16-4 during the run.
"We look at this as an opportunity we didn't pass with flying colors by any stretch of the imagination, but we worked, so I'm not disappointed in the way we played," coach Marc Crawford said.
Jason LaBarbera suffered his first loss since Oct. 10, allowing three goals on 35 shots. He had been 4-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average in his previous four starts.
The Kings lost their first three road games before beating Vancouver 4-2 on Oct. 19. They are 2-11-1 in their last 14 visits to San Jose.
The Sharks won six of eight meetings in 2007-08, and are 20-5-1 with one tie against the Kings since the start of the 2002-03 season.