GAME: Los Angeles Kings (28-28-16-8) at San Jose Sharks (42-21-12-6).
TIME: Sunday, 4 p.m. EDT.
No team fell faster than the Los Angeles Kings in the final three weeks of
the regular season.
Los Angeles hopes to avoid a franchise-record 11th straight loss when it
visits the playoff-bound San Jose Sharks in the teams' regular season finale.
Following a 5-1 victory over Anaheim on March 14, the Kings were tied for
seventh place in the Western Conference and on track to make the playoffs.
Since then, Los Angeles has lost 10 straight (0-9-0-1) to drop into 11th,
ending any chance it had at the postseason.
"Obviously, you never want to be part of a losing streak," Kings forward
Luc Robitaille said. "But it's not so much the streak as it is losing that
battle for a playoff spot that we fought for all year. The hardest thing we
have to do is accept it, because we have no choice now."
The Kings also dropped 10 in a row from Feb. 22-March 9, 1984.
Friday's 3-2 loss to Calgary left Los Angeles with a 15-16-9-1 home record -
their worst such mark during a full season since 1985-86, when they were
With the impending labor problems in the NHL, Sunday could be the final game
of Robitaille's career.
Robitaille, the highest-scoring left wing in league history, has said he
could retire if there is a lockout next season.
"It would be hard to play again a year later," Robitaille said. "You
never know. It would be hard to play even two years later. That's the way I'm
looking at it."
San Jose, which has a franchise-record 102 points, will be the second seed
in the Western Conference behind Detroit when the playoffs begin next week.
The Sharks had a five-game win streak snapped with a 4-1 loss to visiting
Vancouver on Friday.
Though his team has little left to play for in the regular season, San Jose
coach Ron Wilson was not pleased with his club's performance.
"They were obviously a little bit hungrier than we were," Wilson said.
"You always win as a team and lose as a team, but we had a couple guys who
didn't battle the way we needed them to and it cost us early in the game. If
you don't want to play in a game like this where you give 100 percent, then
we've got other people."
Backup Vesa Toskala started Friday, but Evgeni Nabokov figured to get the
call Sunday. Nabokov has allowed five goals during a personal four-game win
STANDINGS: Kings - 80 points, 3rd place, 22 PB, Pacific Division. Sharks -
102 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Alexander Frolov, 24 goals; Robitaille and Jozef
Stumpel, 29 assists; Robitaille, 51 points; Sean Avery, 261 PIM. Sharks -
Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo, 28 goals; Nils Ekman, 31 assists;
Marleau, 56 points; Scott Parker, 101 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 2): Kings - Power play: 13.9 percent (49 for
352), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (270 for 333), 28th. Sharks -
Power play: 16.5 percent (54 for 328), 12th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (270
for 317), 7th.
GOALTENDERS: Kings - Cristobal Huet (10-16-10, 3 SO, 2.43 GAA); Roman
Cechmanek (18-20-6, 5, 2.48). Sharks - Nabokov (30-19-8, 9, 2.19); Toskala
(12-8-4, 1, 2.06).
SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 4-0-1.
LAST MEETING: March 31; Sharks, 3-0. At Los Angeles, Calif., Nabokov stopped
22 shots for his ninth shutout of the season, and Alyn McCauley and Niko
Dimitrakos scored 29 seconds apart in the second period to lead San Jose.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 13-13-7-7 on the road; Sharks - 23-8-7-2 at home.