For the San Jose Sharks, a rare week-long layoff may have come at the wrong time.
The Sharks, who haven't played since last weekend, look to earn at least one point for the seventh straight game when they host the struggling Los Angeles Kings Saturday.
San Jose's offense had finally seemed to find its stride before a 2-1 overtime loss to Anaheim last Saturday. After scoring two or fewer goals in 10 of their first 16 games, the Sharks (11-7-3) averaged nearly five goals per game in four straight wins over a six-day span, three times beating up on Phoenix.
But they might be rusty against the last-place Kings (8-12-1), who have barely been able to score at all in their last three games. Two of those contests came against the Coyotes and new goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and Los Angeles mustered just one goal in two losses.
The Kings' skid reached a season high-tying five games on Wednesday with a 4-1 defeat at Phoenix. Rookie Matt Moulson scored in the first period to end a streak of more than 138 minutes for Los Angeles without a goal. The Kings had also lost 3-0 to Dallas Monday.
"We can't seem to get a decent shot," forward Anze Kopitar said. "Right now, things are really frustrating."
The Kings also have a defense that's among the worst in the NHL, allowing 3.3 goals per game. They've dropped three straight on the road since a 5-2 victory at San Jose on Nov. 2. The Sharks won 3-1 in Los Angeles the next night after going 6-2-0 against the Kings last season.
San Jose hopes its recent run indicates a return to last season's form after the difficult start. The Sharks won two in a row just once in their first 16 games after finishing with 51 victories in 2006-07.
A pair of rookies have led the way for San Jose during its 4-0-2 run. Torrey Mitchell has four goals and an assist over that span, while Devin Setoguchi has scored five times.
The Sharks locked up another young player this week when they signed defenseman Matt Carle to a four-year, $13.75 million extension Wednesday. Carle, a Hobey Baker award winner as the nation's best college player at the University of Denver in 2005-06, had 42 points in his first full NHL season in 2006-07, earning a spot on the league's all-rookie team.
He received the contract despite being benched for three games earlier this season, and has just six points in 18 games.
"When you look at the number of players that have committed to this organization over the last few years - guys like Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo, Evgeni Nabokov, Craig Rivet, Milan Michalek - it's easy to want to be here," Carle said. "The front office has proven that they are serious about winning multiple Stanley Cups, and that's something I want to be a part of."
This is the first of two straight games at home against the Kings for San Jose, though Los Angeles visits Anaheim between the two meetings.