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Sharks-Kings Preview @NHLdotcom
Sharks-Kings Preview

GAME: San Jose Sharks (21-17-6) at Los Angeles Kings (29-18-2).

TIME: Saturday, 6 p.m. EST.

When he faced the San Jose Sharks two weeks ago, Luc Robitaille was trying to become the Los Angeles Kings' all-time leading goal scorer.

San Jose shut him down and so did his next four opponents, but now that he's finally accomplished the feat, Robitaille hopes to help the Kings even the season series when they host the Sharks in a Pacific Division matchup.

Robitaille snapped his five-game goal-scoring drought with a hat trick in Los Angeles' 8-6 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday, passing Marcel Dionne to become the top goal scorer in Kings history. The veteran left wing broke Dionne's record of 550 goals and now has 552 with the Kings, as well as 663 in 1,401 NHL games.

"It's certainly something I'll cherish forever," said Robitaille, who has 10 goals and six assists this season. "It was an amazing night. Nights like this are always fun when you win on top of it. I wanted it to happen earlier, but it was special to do it at home. I have so many great memories here."

It was Robitaille's first hat trick of the season and 15th of his career. The 39-year-old Montreal native, who was NHL rookie of the year with the Kings during the 1986-87 season, has played three stints with Los Angeles spanning 14 seasons. He is the NHL's leading career goal scorer and points leader (1,386) among left wings.

"Now Luc's number one in goals scored, where he belongs. He certainly deserves it," said Kings general manager Dave Taylor, who was Dionne's linemate in the 1970s.

Rookie Jeff Giuliano scored twice against the Thrashers, including the go-ahead goal, while Mattias Norstrom had a goal and four assists to help the Kings match their season high in goals.

Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera made 33 saves in his first start in three weeks as he filled in for Mathieu Garon, sidelined by a bruised shoulder. Garon could return for this game and he's been very good at home, going 9-3 with a 2.33 goals-against average.

The Kings were on an impressive 9-1-1 stretch heading into San Jose on Jan. 7, but lost that matchup 3-2 and have won just two of their last six games overall. These teams, who split two meetings in Los Angeles earlier this season, also will meet in San Jose on Tuesday.

The Sharks have dropped two of three since winning five straight, and are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

San Jose rallied from a two-goal deficit with goals from Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek, but could not complete the comeback.

"When we tied it, we kind of sat back for a few shifts and let them catch their breath," said Sharks coach Ron Wilson. "And then we had a couple of more pushes again but we should have smelled blood at that point and tried to finish them off."

Jonathan Cheechoo notched two assists to extend his career-best points streak to 10 games, with nine goals and eight assists. Goaltender Vesa Toskala stopped 25 shots in place of starter Evgeni Nabokov, who hasn't played since allowing six goals to Montreal last Saturday.

The Kings have won five of their last six at home, but the Sharks have lost just three times in their last 15 games at Los Angeles.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 48 points, 4th place (tied), 14 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 60 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Cheechoo, 25 goals; Thornton, 48 assists and 64 points; Mark Smith, 61 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Lubomir Visnovsky, 33 assists; Sean Avery, 176 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 19): Sharks - Power play: 16.8 percent (45 for 267), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.6 percent (172 for 216), 26th. Kings - Power play: 15.4 percent (51 for 331), 25th. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (244 for 303), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (11-12-5, 1 SO, 3.02 GAA); Toskala (5-4-1, 3.20). Kings - Garon (20-11-0, 2, 2.74); LaBarbera (9-7-2, 3.27).

SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 7; Sharks, 3-2. At San Jose, Calif., Scott Thornton scored twice, including the game-winner, and Patrick Marleau had the other goal for the Sharks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 8-13-2 on the road; Kings - 16-7-0 at home.

Associated Press

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