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Sharks face Kings with another shot at playoff berth

San Jose not worried about three-game losing streak

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

KINGS (45-25-5) at SHARKS (41-28-6)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNE, SNP

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks will have their fourth chance to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center on Monday.

The Sharks will clinch if they win in any fashion or if they earn one point and the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Calgary Flames in any fashion. They will also clinch if the Coyotes lose in regulation.

The Sharks have lost three straight games at SAP Center. Arizona has won three straight at home.

Coach Peter DeBoer said he's not concerned about how long it's taking San Jose to secure a playoff berth.

"I'm not even thinking about that," DeBoer said. "I have no doubt we're going to clinch."

Said Sharks forward Logan Couture: "I don't think we're worried about it. I think we want to play better, and if we play the way we're capable, we'll find ourselves clinching a playoff spot. We need to play better first."

Second-line forward Joonas Donskoi appears likely to return to the Sharks' lineup after missing one game with a lower-body injury. DeBoer said Donskoi will be a game-time decision, but he took part in the morning skate and forward Nick Spaling stayed on the ice late, indicating he'll likely be scratched.

"It's been good, every day better," Donskoi said.

The Sharks have wasted opportunities to climb higher in the Pacific Division. They're seven points behind the first-place Kings, who ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. San Jose trails the second-place Anaheim Ducks by four points.

DeBoer wants the Sharks to maintain their composure while they battle through a rough stretch.

"We've gone through these stretches before," DeBoer said. "For me, I look at how we're playing. We played well enough to probably win two out of the three games. We've had some lulls in our game at different points. Right now we're on the wrong side of the special team battle, the goaltending battle on some nights. We've been on the right side of that more often than not. So you're going to have stretches like that."

The Kings have already clinched a playoff berth but are still battling for the Pacific Division crown and home-ice advantage in the Western Conference. There's also the matter of playing well going into the postseason.

"Especially when you clinch a spot, the thought process is making sure you're staying on top of your game and staying sharp, not losing focus on your game to what got you to clinch that spot," Kings forward Milan Lucic said. "As you can see how tight the division is, there still isn't a clear cut winner of the division. Home ice is important.

"It's still a little bit of that bragging rights to win the division and to gain that home ice. Still a lot to play for with seven games left here and just want to make sure the game is sharp and make sure everyone's going because this is the most fun time of the year. And you want to make sure you're making the most of it."

The Kings and Sharks will play for the fifth and final time in the regular season. Each team has won twice on the road and lost twice at home.

"It's kind of weird because usually when you come into this arena they're really tough to beat here," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Especially that first period, they always just turn it on right away and kind of dominate the first period and then settle down from there. I think they've lost the last three at home so we know that they're going to try to turn that around tonight and play their best hockey here."

The Sharks are 16-18-3 at home with 35 points, second fewest in the NHL.

Goalie Martin Jones will start for the Sharks, his fifth straight against the Kings, and is 2-1-1 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .906 save percentage against his former team. Goalie Jonathan Quick will start for the Kings and face the Sharks for the third time this season, but first at SAP Center. He's 0-2-0 vs. the Sharks.

Here are the projected lineups:


Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Nic Dowd - Andy Andreoff

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Rob Scuderi - Luke Schenn

Jonathan Quick
Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Kris Versteeg (foot), Marian Gaborik (knee), Matt Greene (shoulder), Jordan Nolan (back)
Scratched: Jamie McBain, Nick Shore


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward
Micheal Haley - Dainius Zubrus - Tommy Wingels

Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Dylan DeMelo - Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones
James Reimer

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Matt Nieto (broken knuckle), Matt Tennyson (head)
Scratched: Nick Spaling

Status report: Based on their morning skate, the Kings will stick with their same lineup, lines and defensive pairs they had in their 6-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. … Spaling has appeared in 17 straight games since coming to the Sharks in trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that streak will likely end. Zubrus, who skated in Donskoi's spot against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, will likely center the fourth line if Donskoi returns. ... Versteeg is skating on his own but did not make the trip to San Jose. ... Vlasic will miss his sixth straight game and has yet to skate since his injury. ... Nieto is skating but hasn't handled or shot the puck.

Who's hot: Carter has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past two games. He has two goals and three assists against the Sharks this season. ... Doughty has a goal and two assists in his past four games and is a plus-24 for the season. ... Pavelski has three goals and two assists in his past five games. He has four goals and four assists against the Kings. ... Thornton has 45 points (10-35-45) since Jan. 9, second most in the League in that span.

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