Sharks vs. Kings Preview
Los Angeles, CA (AP) - San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan isn't overly excited about his team's four straight wins. He remembers what happened the last time the club strung together that many victories.
The Sharks try to win five in a row for the first time in more than a year Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Kings, who will be playing their last home game until Feb. 24.
San Jose (25-19-5) won four straight from Dec. 16-23 before having its run ended in a 4-0 home loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 27. That marked the start of a 2-8-0 slump for the Sharks.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Kings -120 money line favorites for Wednesday's game against the Sharks. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 61% of more than 123 bets for this game have been placed on the Kings -120.
Since that stretch, San Jose has rebounded with four consecutive victories to move into ninth place in the Western Conference.
Looking to win five in a row for the first time since Jan. 16-23, 2010, the Sharks would like to continue their momentum as they play their final game before the All-Star break.
"Four games in a row is nice,'' McLellan said following a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. "It reminds me a lot of heading into Christmas. We had our game going well. We were able to play well that last game and went into the break and somehow forgot everything over a 48-hour period, so there is concern there.
"We only have three more periods left and then guys will get their opportunity to rest and to get focused for the last ride.''
Getting focused at Los Angeles hasn't been a problem for San Jose, which has won three in a row at Staples Center, outscoring the Kings 8-2.
Devin Setoguchi scored and Antti Niemi made 29 saves for his ninth career shutout as the Sharks won 1-0 on the road in the teams' last meeting Jan. 1.
Los Angeles (26-22-1) won't play another home game for a while, as the Kings begin a stretch of 10 straight on the road following the break. That might not be a bad thing as the Kings have dropped seven of 10 at Staples.
Los Angeles did win its second in a row Monday, 2-0 at home over Boston. The Kings went 2-10-0 before the last two contests.
"We got to move forward and string a few wins together," goaltender Jonathan Quick said. "We can get better.''
Quick has certainly improved, turning away 57 of 60 shots in the last two games after going 1-7-0 with a 3.38 goals-against average in his previous eight.
Quick, one shutout shy of tying Felix Potvin for third in franchise history with 14, is 1-1-0 with a 0.50 GAA in two starts versus San Jose this season.
With backup Jonathan Bernier in net, the Kings' season-high six-game winning streak was snapped with a 6-3 loss at San Jose on Nov. 15.
While Los Angeles is among the league's best at home on the penalty kill - stopping 88.2 percent - the Sharks have gone 12 for 19 on the power play in their last six games at Staples Center despite an 0-for-2 effort Jan. 1.
The Kings snapped an 0-for-22 skid with the man advantage on Ryan Smyth's first-period score Monday.
"We played solid defense and capitalized on special teams, which we'd been lacking lately,'' Smyth said.
Smyth and the Kings could have a tough time scoring if Niemi is in net Wednesday. He has a 1.96 GAA during the Sharks' winning streak, and San Jose has allowed two power-play goals in 17 attempts during the run.The Sharks have won four of five against Los Angeles.
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