West Coast rivalry heats up again

West Coast rivalry heats up again

The Kings certainly aren’t known for opening the new year in a rip-roaring manner. In order to avoid falling further behind in the Pacific Division race, though, they’d do well to remedy that tonight.

Darryl Sutter’s club visits San Jose at 10 p.m. in a matchup of longtime nemeses. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Sharks odds of -125 to emerge victorious. Los Angeles, on the other hand, represents a +105 underdog.

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Over the last three seasons, the Kings have gone a combined 14-17-7 during the month of January. Perhaps Saturday’s outcome at Staples Center, however, was a hint of better things to come. Los Angeles edged San Jose, 3-2, as Peter Budaj made 18 saves. The in-house replacement for the injured Jonathan Quick has allowed only nine goals since Dec. 16.

Peter DeBoer’s team isn’t exactly lighting the lamp with regularity, either. Besides superstar defenseman Brent Burns (15), no player boasts more than 12 tallies. Altogether, the Sharks rank 20th in the league with 2.49 goals per game.

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Including the postseason, the Kings hold a 6-4 record in their past 10 trips to SAP Center. With both Budaj and his counterpart in net, Martin Jones, excelling at the moment, we anticipate a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair. In the end, though, take San Jose to improve to 14-4-0 at home.

TUESDAY NHL FREE PICK: KINGS/SHARKS UNDER 5 GOALS

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