San Jose Sharks Battle Kings Looking To Slice Deficit

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The San Jose Sharks are back on the West Coast for one final matchup before the holiday break. Standing in their way are the Los Angeles Kings who are leading the pack in the mediocre Pacific Division.

The Sharks and Kings have split their two meetings this season with each team scoring a blowout victory on the other team’s home ice. San Jose took the season opener with a 5-1 win at Staples, while Los Angeles answered back with a 4-1 victory at SAP Center two weeks later.

It will be a big test for the Sharks as they have reached the tail end of their five-game road trip. San Jose has been alright going 2-1-1, although they’ve dropped their past two games. The Sharks will want to carry some momentum into their six-day break by taking two points from their division rivals and cutting into their lead in the process.

Players to Watch

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Sharks: Joe Thornton. Thornton has picked up his scoring of late as he’s added one goal and three assists on the current road trip for San Jose as he’s looking more like himself. It’s been a slow start to the year for Thornton who has five goals and 15 assists through the first 33 games for the Sharks, who will need more from him if they want to make a push in the division.

Kings: Drew Doughty. Doughty is one of the best all-around defensemen in the game, logging heavy minutes for the defensive-minded Kings. Doughty ranks third in the league in ice time per game averaging 27:47 a night. He’s no slouch offensively either recording five goals and 14 assists for the year.

Keys to the Game

1. Power Play Effectiveness

The Kings are one of the stingiest defensive units in the game ranking second in goals against per game and fourth on the penalty kill. Chances will be few and far between for the Sharks in this one so they will need to convert when they get an opportunity on the power play. As it stands now, San Jose has the 12th ranked power play in the NHL and they’ve scored a goal on the man advantage in their past three games.

2. Martin Jones

Jones has been solid in net for the Sharks this season posting a 14-10-2 record with a 2.37 GAA and a .916 save percentage. He will be facing his former teammates for the third time and it’s been a mixed bag. Jones was outstanding in the opener allowing just one goal on 20 shots, but he was victimized for four goals on 29 shots in San Jose’s loss. The Sharks will need Jones to be on top of his game in this one.

3. Traffic in Front

In the first meeting, San Jose did a great job of getting to the front of the net and causing havoc in front of Jonathan Quick who allowed five goals on that occasion. The Sharks will need more of the same if they want to have success tonight because if Quick can see it he’s going to stop it.

Next: Sharks Hold Steady In Pacific

TV/Radio

TV: NBC Sports Network (7:30 p.m. PST)

Radio: 98.5 KFOX