NHL Hockey: San Jose at Los Angeles Print
Written by TheSpread   
Tuesday, 12 December 2006 14:30
NHL Headline News

Late Nite NHL: Sharks Overwhelming Public Favorite Against Kings

Team Page: San Jose :: Los Angeles

95% of Bets Placed on Sharks -166 | Matchup | Goalies
The San Jose Sharks have been rotating goaltenders Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov all season. Judging by the results, it's not a system they're about to change now.

The Sharks looks to build on another excellent defensive performance Tuesday when they meet the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Oddsmakers have made San Jose -166 money line (NHL Odds) favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at

6 total goals (View NHL Sports Books).

While most teams have a starting goaltender and a backup that plays sparingly, the Sharks (22-9-0) have taken the unorthodox approach of switching between Nabokov and Toskala each game.

All that tandem has done is produce six shutouts and a 2.04 goals-against average, both NHL bests. Toskala stopped 23 shots for his third shutout of the season Monday in a 4-0 victory over visiting Phoenix.

He also rebounded from his worst game of the season to win for the fifth time in six starts.

``The save Vesa made on (Mike) Comrie midway through the second period was huge,'' Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. ``That would have given them some life and tied the game.''

Nabokov, meanwhile, has won three of his past four starts, allowing a combined three goals during that span. He has surrendered two goals or fewer in nine of his last 11 games.

Joe Thornton had his second straight game with three assists for San Jose, which has allowed a one total goal in wins over Nashville and Phoenix since a 5-2 loss to Colorado on Thursday.

``People are finishing the chances he creates,'' Wilson said of Thornton. ``He creates so much, he could have had a few more. When things get rolling, everything usually goes his way.''

Monday's victory gave the Sharks 44 points - the league's third-highest total - but they are still eight behind league-leading Anaheim in the Pacific Division.

San Jose hosts the Ducks on Saturday following this home-and-home series, but right wing Jonathan Cheechoo knows his team can't look past the Kings.

``You don't want to take anything for granted,'' he said. ``With teams that are struggling, they can be dangerous because you know they're getting it from their coach every day. You have to better their effort.''

Although the Sharks have won six of their last eight visits to Los Angeles, one of those losses was a 4-2 defeat on Nov. 13 with Toskala in net. San Jose was outshot 34-18 in that game.

Nabokov is 5-5 with two ties, a 2.14 goals-against average and three career shutouts in Los Angeles.

Craig Conroy scored the go-ahead goal with 6:12 left in the third period as Los Angeles (11-16-4) rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Avalanche on Saturday.

The Kings outshot Colorado 38-30 after recording a season-low 21 shots in Thursday's 4-1 loss to Nashville - which was followed by a players-only meeting.

``The Anaheim game (a 3-2 win on Dec. 3) was maybe our best win, but this might have been the grittiest one,'' Conroy said. ``Hopefully, all those meetings we have are sinking in. This was a huge win for us.''

Los Angeles had been 0-13 this season when trailing after two periods before Saturday.

``It was our commitment to sticking with what's going to work for us,'' forward Michael Cammalleri said. ``We've got to realize what it is that makes us successful - and that's working hard, supporting each other and making good strong plays.''

The Sharks have won two of three games against the Kings this season, splitting two meetings in Los Angeles. They'll meet again on Thursday in San Jose.

by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us

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