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Sharks host Kings in potential playoff preview

by Brian Compton /

KINGS (24-14-4) at SHARKS (22-13-7)


Last 10: Los Angeles 6-2-2; San Jose 6-2-2

Season series: This is the third of four meetings. The teams faced each other twice in a three-day span in March, with each club earning a victory.

Big story: One point separates the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks as they battle for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, which guarantees home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose, which currently resides in fifth, stayed two points ahead of the Minnesota Wild with Monday's 4-0 road win against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles is coming off back-to-back victories, as the defending Stanley Cup champs made it two in a row with Saturday's 2-1 win against the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center. Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick made 19 saves.

"I liked our team," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said "We just finished seven of 11 on the road, and the White House [visit], and managed to still win our home games while we were doing it. Without having one off anywhere there, with all that traveling, I think all of our guys did a good job."

Sharks: San Jose bounced back nicely from Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars by cruising past a Phoenix club that was desperate for points. Antti Niemi stopped all 35 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season, while Tommy Wingels had a goal and an assist.

"We've got a big game tomorrow night we're all looking forward to and it was good to get this one first," said center Logan Couture, who had the first of San Jose's three second-period goals. "We had a good second period. We got pucks behind them and when we roll over our four lines we're a tough team to beat."

Who's hot: Doughty has goals in four of his past five games for Los Angeles. Two of those tallies have come via the power play. … Niemi has allowed two or fewer goals in three straight starts.

Injury report: The Kings are still without defensemen Willie Mitchell (knee) and Matt Greene (back). … Sharks defenseman Scott Hannan is out with an upper-body injury.

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