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Red-hot Sharks set to host reeling Kings

by David Kalan

KINGS (29-18-6) at SHARKS (34-12-6)


Last 10: Los Angeles 3-5-2; San Jose 8-2-0

Season series: This is the fourth game this season between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The Kings beat the Sharks, 4-1, in their most-recent meeting on Dec. 19, 2013 at Staples Center to take a 2-0-1 lead in the season series.

Big story: After the playing under the bright lights of Dodger Stadium in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series on Saturday night, the Kings will have to find a way to return to normalcy, but adapting to life in regular NHL venue is hardly their biggest problem. Los Angeles is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, which it will attempt to snap Monday with a visit to San Jose against the red-hot Sharks, winners of six in a row.

Team Scope:

Kings: The Kings got to participate in a rare spectacle on Saturday when they faced the Anaheim Ducks outside and under the lights, and while the experience may have been a memorable one, the fact remains that L.A. gave up two points to a division rival and remains mired one of its longest skids of the season. The team's offense continued to struggle as it was shut out by Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, marking the sixth time in the Kings' past eight games in which they failed to score more than two goals.

The Kings have averaged just 1.83 goals per game in January, well below their season average of 2.38, which is already in the bottom sixth in the League.

"We had some really good chances," Kings captain Dustin Brown said after the team's loss to Anaheim at Dodger Stadium. "But we've gotta bear down on our chances. We've gotta start finding points."

Their recent skid has cost the Kings considerable ground in the Pacific Division standings, but they remain in third place and are in line to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After visiting San Jose, the Kings travel to face the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday before settling in for a four-game homestand ahead of the Olympic break.

Sharks: While their in-state rivals have struggled, the Sharks have flourished over the past two weeks. San Jose recently swept a three-game cross-country road trip with games against the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning before returning home and winning the first three games on a four-game homestand.

While six wins in a row is impressive, however, only two of those wins came against teams currently in the playoff field. Even in the Sharks' last game, a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, coach Todd McLellan felt the team's performance was not up to snuff.

"We sure weren't very sharp," McLellan said afterward. "I thought we started the game well. For the first eight minutes, we were fine. We were playing the kind of game we wanted. We had the turnover in the neutral zone, and after they scored, we never regained any type of momentum until later in the second period.

"We can't fall into a trap where we get sleepy, lazy, nonchalant just because we're at home. Teams are competing hard, and we have to match that."

After facing Los Angeles, the Sharks will make a quick two-game road trip to face the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames before opening up another four-game homestand.

Who's hot: There may be no one in the League hotter than Joe Pavelski, who has scored seven goals and added three assists in the past five games. In three of those games, Pavelski netted the game-winner.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (concussion) is out indefinitely. … Sharks forward Martin Havlat (lower-body injury) is questionable while forwards Logan Couture (hand surgery), Tomas Hertle (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (ACL surgery) and Adam Burish (back surgery) as well as defenseman Scott Hannan (concussion) are all out.

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