The Los Angeles Kings will host the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night for the final meeting of the 2016-17 season between the two Pacific Division rivals. The game will also be the final game of a seven-game homestand for Los Angeles.
The Kings fell to 3-3-0 through the first six games of the homestand on Monday when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ben Bishop made 31 saves and Tyler Johnson and Brian Boyle both scored in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 win.
Anze Kopitar, who missed Monday’s game against the Lightning due to an illness, will be back on the ice for the Kings when they take on the Sharks. The same can’t be said about Tyler Toffoli who still hasn’t started skating again and has seen his target date to get back on the ice pushed back again.
The Sharks ended a two-game losing streak when they beat the Winnipeg Jets in San Jose on Monday night. Martin Jones made 26 saves, including 11 in the first period, and Brent Burns and Joe Thornton scored in San Jose’s 5-2 win.
The Kings and Sharks have met four times already this season and have both won two of the four games. The season series has been tight through the first four games with three of the four games having been decided by one goal.
Now a closer look at the meeting between Pacific Division foes.
San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:30 p.m. PST on Wednesday, Jan. 18
Broadcast channels – NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series:
Oct. 12 – SJS 2 – LAK 1
Nov. 30 – SJS 4 – LAK 1
Dec. 31 LAK 3 – SJS 2
Jan 3. LAK 2 – SJS 1 (OT)
Los Angeles Kings – 22-18-4 – 48 Points
Home Record: 14-7-1
Hot Players: Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar
Key Injuries: Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Quick
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Nic Dowd – Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel
San Jose Sharks – 26-16-2 – 54 Points
Away Record: 11-10-1
Hot Players: Brent Burns
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
1) Getting two points on any night is big for obvious reasons. But when two divisional opponents meet, a four-point swing for the winning team is huge. This season, the Kings have gone 7-5-0 and the Sharks 8-6-2 against the Pacific Division. Going into this game six points separate the two teams, so a regulation win would go a long way in either distancing the Sharks from the Kings or closing the gap in the standings.
2) Drew Doughty goes into the game leading the NHL in average ice time per game with 27:17. San Jose’s Brent Burns sits just outside the NHL’s top ten at number 11 with a 24:56 average. Head coach Darryl Sutter commented on the need of a star defenseman in the NHL, via LA Kings Insider, “I would think every team would want to have one of those. I’m just thinking about our division, it’s certainly elements of teams.”
3) Both the Sharks and Kings sport top-ten defenses having allowed the fourth and sixth fewest goal against respectively. It’s a simple recipe for success, allow as few shots against a game and the other team will have less opportunity to score, something both teams excel in. Los Angeles allows the fewest shots against per game at 25.8 a game and San Jose isn’t far behind in third place allowing an average of 27 shots against per game.
4) San Jose and Los Angeles have been anchored in net by two workhorses. For the Sharks, Martin Jones has a 22-14-2 record, a .916 save percentage and 2.25 goals against average. For the Kings, Peter Budaj has gone 20-12-3 with a .917 save percentage and 2.09 goals against average.
5) Jeff Carter leads the NHL with eight game-winning goals this season. Joe Pavelski and Burns lead San Jose with four game-winners of their own.