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The San Jose Sharks are trying to re-establish themselves among the league's elite. An elite team should be able to beat opponents like the last-place Los Angeles Kings on home ice.
The Sharks look to overcome their home struggles against the Kings when the in-state rivals meet Wednesday night.
San Jose (11-8-3) has been one of the NHL's top teams since its last-place finish in 2002-03, but has yet to distinguish itself this season in the tightly packed Western Conference. Much of the Sharks' problems stem from their struggles at home, where they are worst in the West at 3-5-1 after going 25-12-4 in 2006-07.
Two of San Jose's losses at HP Pavilion have come against Los Angeles (9-13-1), which has a conference-low 19 points and is 3-6-1 on the road. The Sharks are 1-2-0 overall against the Kings this season.
San Jose, which had won 12 of 14 versus Los Angeles at HP Pavilion entering this season, is coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Kings on Saturday night. That was Los Angeles' first road win since beating San Jose 5-2 on Nov. 2.
The loss was the first in regulation for the Sharks since a 3-1 defeat to Dallas on Nov. 7.
Evgeni Nabokov made 15 saves in the defeat and continues to be a bright spot for San Jose.
Nabokov has a started an NHL-high 29 consecutive games, and ranks fifth in the league with a 2.02 goals-against average. That mark is even lower than his career-best 2.19 GAA from 2001-02, when he won the NHL's Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.
"Nabby is just very sound with his angles," Sharks center Jeremy Roenick said. "He is very smart and that can be better than being really agile or athletic."
Nabokov is 1-2-0 with a 2.35 GAA against the Kings this season, and 17-10-0 with two ties and a 2.01 GAA in 30 career games against them.
Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown each scored first-period goals against Nabokov on Saturday to help the Kings snap a five-game losing streak. However, the Kings wound up back in the loss column Sunday at Anaheim, when they led 2-1 entering the final period but squandered the lead and fell 3-2.
"We have to get to the point where if we have the lead in third that doesn't happen," said Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown, who scored his 10th goal of the season. "We have to get to that level where it doesn't happen."
Los Angeles, which has scored two goals or less in each of its last five games, has been without Alexander Frolov (groin) for the last two contests. The left wing, who has four goals to go with his team-high 16 assists, is uncertain for Wednesday's game.
Veteran Jon Klemm, meanwhile, made his first appearance for the Kings Sunday after being recalled from AHL Manchester. Normally a stay-at-home defenseman, Klemm skated as a forward on the Kings' fourth line.