One game after being stonewalled by Evgeni Nabokov, the Los Angeles Kings hope to fare better Thursday against Vesa Toskala as they complete a home-and-home series with the San Jose Sharks.
The Kings (11-17-4), though, likely won't consider facing Toskala much easier as the Sharks (23-9-0) continue their season-long pattern of alternating starts for their goaltenders. Toskala is 2-1-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average versus Los Angeles this season and 5-1-0 with a 2.37 GAA and one shutout lifetime.
Los Angeles is trying to regroup after Tuesday's 3-1 defeat, when it only avoided a shutout thanks to Lubomir Visnovsky's goal midway through the third period. The Kings outshot the Sharks 37-31 - including 32-16 in the first two periods - but were unable to solve Nabokov, who picked up his 14th career win against Los Angeles.
"They shoot from everywhere and we know that," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "They're not always dangerous, but they make the goalie work. We did a good job clearing rebounds."
In addition to its offensive woes against whomever San Jose puts in net, Los Angeles' lack of discipline also contributed to Tuesday's loss. The Kings gave the Sharks seven power-play chances - two of which were converted before Visnovsky's goal - and they know giving the league's second-best power-play multiple opportunities will almost guarantee another loss.
"We're just not good enough," Kings center Derek Armstrong said. "The first two periods we were getting the pucks to the net and I think we tried to play too wide open in the third and it cost us."
Los Angeles, which is already 30 points behind Anaheim in the Pacific Division, has allowed 11 power-play goals in its last six games.
Rookie Joe Pavelski lifted the Sharks offensively with two goals, including a third-period power-play marker for San Jose's final goal. The 22-year-old center, a seventh-round draft pick in 2003, has seven goals in 10 games since being called up from Worcester of the AHL.
"I've capitalized on a lot of opportunities I've gotten," said Pavelski, who scored in his first NHL game Nov. 22 against Los Angeles. "I'm just so new and I want to keep things going."
San Jose, which has won three straight and 14 of its last 18 overall, also has 16 wins and a tie in its last 21 games against Los Angeles.
The Sharks have gone 5-for-22 with the man advantage during their winning streak, while killing off all 15 short-handed situations.
First-line center Joe Thornton has a goal and eight assists during a four-game points streak after not recording a point his previous four games. His assist on Pavelski's power-play goal was his 100th assist in 90 games with the Sharks since being acquired via trade Nov. 30, 2005, from the Boston Bruins.
The Sharks have not completed a home-and-home sweep from the Kings since 3-0 and 3-1 wins, respectively, on Jan. 27-28, 2003. They defeated Los Angeles twice in a four-day span this past January, but the Kings played a game against Anaheim in between those losses.