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Kings look to put positive cap on home stand against surging Sharks

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



SHARKS (19-11-5) at KINGS (17-11-7)

7:00PM PT, TV: NBC SPORTS NETWORK; RADIO: AM 790 KABC

SHARK WATCH: This is the second of five meetings with San Jose this season; the Sharks won the first match up 4-0 in the teams’ regular season opener on October 8 at STAPLES Center. The Sharks have been hot in December, posting an 8-1-1 record through 10 games. San Jose is coming off of a 3-2 OT loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night; the Kings come into the evening 2-0-1 on their current four-game home stand, which they’re putting a cap on tonight.

HOLIDAY HOT: After starting the season a mediocre 10-10-4, the Sharks have reeled off a 9-1-1 record since Thanksgiving. Goaltender Antti Niemi has been solid throughout the run, posting a 7-0-1 record during the streak. During their resurgent stretch, the Sharks’ power play has risen to the top of the NHL – San Jose chiming in with a 25% success rate through 35 games played.

HOLIDAY CHEER: The Kings, failing to hold a three-goal lead against Calgary in their last game before the Holiday break on Monday, saw the Flames snap an eight-game losing streak in their 4-3 OT loss. The Kings are 2-0-1 as they finish their four-game home stand tonight. A win would be welcome for the Kings, who will venture out on a three-game trip through Western Canada next week. The Kings went 1-3-1 on their previous duties away from Los Angeles.

PROJECTED LINES: Per Jon Rosen from this morning’s pregame skate in El Segundo:

GABORIK – KOPITAR – CARTER
BROWN – STOLL – WILLIAMS
PEARSON – LEWIS – TOFFOLI
CLIFFORD – RICHARDS – KING
ANDREOFF – NOLAN
-------------------------------

MUZZIN – DOUGHTY
MARTINEZ – GREENE
MCNABB – MCBAIN
SCHULTZ

SCHULTZ BACK: Jeff Schultz has once again been recalled from the Manchester Monarchs. Schultz, who has yet to play in a game with the Kings season, is providing relief while is out of the lineup. Schultz, who remained on the ice for extra work following today’s morning skate, will probably be the only defenseman deemed a healthy scratch tonight. Jamie McBain will likely play in his third straight game; pairing up with Brayden McNabb on the Kings’ third unit. McBain has two points (1G, 1A) in two games back after being designated a healthy scratch for nine straight games.

QUICK VS NIEMI: Jonathan Quick, who left this morning’s pregame skate first, will make his 29th start of the season tonight. Quick comes into the night with a 14-8-6 record, posting a .921 SV% and a 2.35 GAA. Quick has been pulled early from only one of his starts this season, that coming in the Kings’ previous and only match up against the Sharks this season on October 8; Quick surrendered four goals on 27 shots faced, and was pulled after two periods of play. Antti Niemi will make his 26th start of the season tonight for the Sharks. Niemi is 14-7-4 with a .917 SV% and a 2.44 GAA, and is 7-0-1 in his previous eight starts.

WHO’S HOT: Marian Gaborik has nine points (7G, 2A) in the past five games, and has scored at least one goal in each of those contests. Anze Kopitar has 10 points (1G, 9A), and Jeff Carter seven points (3G, 4A) in the Kings’ previous four games.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: The Kings will be looking to avenge their 4-0 loss to San Jose when they opened up the regular season on October 8 at STAPLES Center. The Sharks scored three second period goals, and Jonathan Quick was pulled early in the loss. The Kings are 4-1-0 at STAPLES Center against the Sharks in regular season contests dating back to the start of the 2012-’13 campaign. The Sharks are 9-7-3 on the road this season, while the Kings boast a 13-4-2 mark this year on home ice.

KING TO CARTER

NATIONAL TELECAST: Due to tonight’s game being broadcast by the NBC Sports Network, FOX SPORTS WEST will not air a KINGS LIVE pregame show. The puck will drop a bit earlier, too, at 7:00PM PT.

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