First-place Kings open home-and-home with Sharks
Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 5:33 PMSHARKS (41-29-10) at KINGS (40-27-13)
TV: CSN-California (HD), PRIME (HD)
San Jose 6-4-0; Los Angeles 7-2-1
This is the fifth of six meetings between these Pacific Division foes, with the home team winning each of the first four matchups. Each club posted a two-goal victory in November before the Sharks claimed a 2-1 shootout decision in December and the Kings a 5-2 triumph on March 20.
This is the first of a home-and-home set to close out the season for both teams. The clubs will also meet on Saturday in San Jose. While the Kings have solidified a playoff spot, the Sharks are currently clinging to the eighth seed with 41 wins and 92 points -- three ahead of Dallas and four ahead of Colorado, with two games remaining.
Logan Couture snapped a 10-game drought when he connected for the decisive goal 17:24 into the third period to help lead the Sharks to a 5-2 victory over the Stars on Tuesday. After sweeping the home-and-home against the Stars, outscoring them, 8-2, in the process, now it's on to Los Angeles. Antti Niemi made 29 saves in the victory, which enabled San Jose to take a big step toward securing a playoff berth for the eighth straight season.
"We can't enjoy this for very long," coach Todd McLellan said. "We've got work to do. Good teams keep their highs and lows at a very even keel and we still have work to do. We cannot let our guard down. That'll be the message again sent to the players."
Los Angeles, which has won nine of 12, could clinch its first division title in 21 years with two regulation wins over San Jose. The Kings joined the NHL in 1967, yet won just one division title in their first 43 seasons. Goalie Jonathan Quick
made 19 saves for his NHL-leading 10th shutout on Monday in a 2-0 victory over Edmonton. Los Angeles, which is 87-0-7 in its last 94 games when leading after two periods, has a team-record 11 shutouts this season.
Kings center Anze Kopitar
has 15 points in the last 11 games, connecting for five goals and 10 assists over that stretch.
Injury Report: Jeff Carter
(ankle) is day-to-day and Simon Gagne
(concussion) and Scott Parse
(hip) are out for the Kings. … For the Sharks, defenseman Douglas Murray (lower body) is questionable.
San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle is just the fourth undrafted defenseman in League history to record 500 career points, joining Borje Salming (787), Steve Duchesne (752) and Brian Rafalski (515). Boyle has 502 points in 831 career games spanning 13 seasons.
"It is a playoff atmosphere. It's exciting," Boyle said. "I've never been in a position down to the wire like this. Thirteen years now and this is a first."