|SJS||2||2||1||(0 - 0)||5|
|LAK||1||2||1||(0 - 0)||4|
TIME: Friday, 10:30 p.m. EDT.
Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray insists he will continue to rotate goaltenders Jason LaBarbera and Mathieu Garon. The way LaBarbera has performed this season, that can't be an easy decision.
LaBarbera has certainly earned the right to start his second consecutive game when the Kings host the San Jose Sharks.
LaBarbera, who entered this season with only five games of NHL experience, has been a revelation for Los Angeles. He has won all five of his starts, leads the NHL with a 1.40 goals-against average and ranks second with a .947 save percentage.
His 5-0 record matches the best start by a goalie in franchise history. Daniel Berthiaume won his first five decisions in 1990-91 as Kelly Hrudey's backup.
"It's a process," LaBarbera said. "I just want to keep working hard and improving my game and my confidence. (Being) 5-0 is pretty cool, but it's the next game that matters now."
LaBarbera is one of the main reasons why the Kings, at 7-3-0, are off to their best start since 1990-91, when they finished 46-24-10 and won a division title before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
"People have wondered about our goaltending - and it's only the first 10 games - but I think our guys have played at a really high level," Murray said. "It's a challenge every game to show that they can keep it going at this level, and we're going to keep using both of them."
Garon, meanwhile, hasn't been nearly as sharp, going 2-3-0 with a 3.19 GAA and an .873 save percentage.
LaBarbera made 29 saves, and Mike Cammalleri, Luc Robitaille and Craig Conroy scored to lead Los Angeles to a 3-1 victory over Anaheim on Tuesday.
Kings center Jeremy Roenick missed the game with groin and hamstring injuries, but could be back for this game.
"I think we are anticipating he'll be ready on Friday, but we won't know until after practice," Murray said.
San Jose is struggling just to find someone to put between the pipes as it enters the finale of a six-game road trip.
Top goalie Evgeni Nabokov suffered an upper-body injury against Columbus last Friday and was placed on injured reserve Thursday. Backup Vesa Toskala started in his absence against Dallas on Wednesday, but left in the second period with a groin injury.
Nolan Schaefer, recalled from Cleveland last week, made 12 saves in his NHL debut as the Sharks rallied for a 5-4 win in overtime, ending a four-game losing streak.
"We're finally getting some breaks," San Jose's Patrick Marleau said. "The games in the past, we've been all over teams early, then we've given up a goal and it deflates the bench. But to battle back is a great confidence booster."
After placing Nabokov on injured reserve, the Sharks recalled goalie Dimitri Patzold - who has never played in the NHL - from Cleveland.
STANDINGS: Sharks - 9 points, 4th place (tied), 5 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 14 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Marleau and Marco Sturm, 5 goals; Marleau and Milan Michalek, 5 assists; Marleau, 10 points; Kyle McLaren and Rob Davison, 16 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 5 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 8 assists; Demitra and Visnovsky, 10 points; George Parros, 28 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 13.0 percent (9 for 69), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (46 for 56), 19th. Kings - Power play: 15.3 percent (10 for 65), 20th. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (53 for 63), 10th.
GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Toskala (0-3-0, 0 SO, 5.07 GAA); Schaefer (1-0-0, 1.71). Kings - Garon (2-3-0, 3.19); LaBarbera (5-0-0, 1.40).
2003-2004 SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 5-0-1.
LAST MEETING: April 4, 2004; Sharks, 4-3, OT. At San Jose, Calif., the Sharks rallied from a 3-1 deficit and Vincent Damphousse, now retired, scored 3:10 into overtime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 2-5-1 on the road; Kings - 5-2-0 at home.