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Kings to take simple approach against Sharks in Santa Clara

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



KINGS (27-18-12) at SHARKS (30-22-8)

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

NORCAL: Tonight marks the fourth of five meetings with the San Jose Sharks this season; the clubs will finish their season series on April 11 at STAPLES Center. After going 2-5-2 through their first nine games in February, the Sharks picked up a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Kings have won six consecutive games, and are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. The Kings are 1-2-0 against San Jose in three previous meetings this season; they beat the Sharks 3-1 on December 27.

A BIG TWO POINTS: Coming into the night, the Kings find themselves just two points behind the Sharks for the Western Conference’s second and final wild-card playoff spot. The Kings, who have three games in-hand on the Sharks, are also just two points out of the Pacific Division’s third and final playoff seed, and three points out of second place in the Pacific. Although tonight’s game will have a spotlight on it because of the unique setting, the importance of a win for the Kings tonight is the primary focus in Los Angeles’ locker room.

LINEUP NOTES: Jonathan Quick will make his 14th-straight start for the Kings in net tonight. Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis are expected to swap spots on the first and third units, Andy Andreoff and Derek Forbort are expected to be healthy scratches, Alec Martinez did not travel with the team. Per Jon Rosen, who attended the Kings’ practice Friday evening at Levi’s Stadium, here’s how tonight’s lineup should pan out:

GABORIK – KOPITAR – BROWN
KING – CARTER – TOFFOLI
LEWIS – STOLL – WILLIAMS
CLIFFORD – SHORE – NOLAN
(ANDREOFF)
-----------------------
DOUGHTY – REGEHR
MUZZIN – GREENE
MCNABB – MCBAIN
(FORBORT)

HISTORIC SETTING: Tonight marks the second-ever outdoor NHL game played in California. The Kings made history with the Anaheim Ducks last season, playing in the NHL Stadium Series at Dodger Stadium, but they lost the game 3-0. Tonight’s contest will be at the brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the new home to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. There are expected to be just under 70,000 people in attendance.

ICE CONDITIONS: What the NHL is dealing with in Santa Clara that they didn’t have to worry about last season at Dodger Stadium is humidity. This will make tedious plays with the puck a little more difficult, so the Kings are coming in prepared to play a simple game that harnesses on simply getting the puck to the net. “If you’re trying to make those pretty passing plays, it’s not going to connect well,” Drew Doughty said following Friday’s practice. “[Saturday], one of our focuses will be just to get pucks on net and try to bang in rebounds and tips.”

WHO’S HOT: Dwight King comes into the night riding a five-game point streak, registering eight points (3G, 5A) during that span. Jeff Carter also has points in each of his last five games, totaling in with nine points (4G, 5A) during his streak. Tyler Toffoli has points in five of his last six games, totaling in with nine points (6G, 3A) during the stretch. Jonathan Quick has won each of his last six decisions.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Kings’ only previous meeting with the San Jose Sharks this season away from Los Angeles on January 21, they fell 4-2 at SAP Center. Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter scored for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced. Logan Couture registered three points (2G, 1A) in the Sharks’ win.

WRAPAROUND BROWN

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, with coverage starting just prior to puck drop at 7:00PM PT. You can also listen to the Kings’ own Daryl Evans and Nick Nickson call the game on AM 790 KABC.

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