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Sharks-Kings Preview

NHL.com @NHL

The NHL certainly gave the San Jose Sharks a favorable place to kick off their four-game road trip.

The Sharks try to win in Los Angeles for the sixth time in their last seven games there when they visit the Kings on Thursday.

San Jose (11-5-0) is trying for its third three-game winning streak of the season and, considering its recent success against the Kings, that's a realistic goal. The Sharks are 15-3-1 with a tie in the last 20 matchups between the Pacific Division rivals, outscoring Los Angeles 70-42 in that span.

They took six of the eight meetings between the teams in 2005-06, including five straight at one point. The clubs, which are meeting for the first time this season, square off again Monday in the third game of San Jose's road trip.

The Sharks closed out a three-game homestand with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. Mike Grier and Joe Thornton scored in the first 10 minutes, giving San Jose a lead it never relinquished.

"I don't think we had scored three goals at 5-on-5 all season," said Thornton, who boosted his team-leading point total to 19 with just his third goal of the season. "We came out strong, got a couple of goals early and stayed on top of it, just like we wanted to."

Patrick Marleau added a goal and an assist, moving into a tie with Milan Michalek for the team lead with seven goals. Marleau recorded six goals and seven assists in eight games against the Kings last season.

Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves Tuesday and improved to 4-4 with a 2.14 goals-against average. He is 13-8 with two ties and a 2.05 GAA in 24 career games against the Kings, but has been alternating starts with Vesa Toskala, who is 7-1 with a 2.12 GAA this season.

Toskala has won all of his three career starts against the Kings, posting a 1.60 GAA in four appearances.

San Jose's netminders have been bolstered by the team's strong penalty-killing unit. The Sharks have thwarted 69 of 78 opponent power-play opportunities.

That's not a good sign for the Kings (5-9-3), who have capitalized on only 15 of 116 power-play opportunities (12.9 percent), including just 6 of 62 at home.

Los Angeles has performed better lately, however, scoring a power-play goal in five straight games. The Kings notched two in Tuesday's 6-5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche - just their second win in nine games.

"We just are all trying to get goals and win games," said Kings center Sean Avery, who scored twice. "We have been playing hard and the bounces haven't been going our way. But (Tuesday night) they did."

Craig Conroy and Anze Kopitar each had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles, which scored more than four goals for the first time this season. Scott Thornton, who spent the last five seasons with San Jose, scored his first goal for the Kings after signing a two-year contract in the offseason.

Los Angeles is opening a five-game homestand. The Kings won their first two games of the season at the Staples Center, but has lost six of seven home games since then.

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