Programming note – Sharks-Kings coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 23-13-1, 47 points, 1st Pacific Division
Kings: 18-15-4, 40 points, 5th Pacific Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks will host the Kings in the second of a home-and-home, after Los Angeles won 3-2 at Staples Center on New Year’s Eve.
In that game, the Kings had the Sharks on their heels early, and San Jose never recovered from a 2-0 hole. Coach Pete DeBoer said on Tuesday morning that his club got “pushed out of that game for stretches, which is a little uncharacteristic for us. We’ve got to get that fixed.”
“When we’ve had success against this team it’s when we’ve put our work boots on and been prepared, and gone nose-to-nose with them in the trenches,” said the coach. “There’s nowhere to hide when you’re playing the L.A. Kings. You’ve got to be willing to do that. I think we will be tonight.”
Joe Thornton said: “I expect us to push at the start tonight. They pushed pretty hard in their building, so I expect us to push hard in ours.”
The Sharks won the first two games of the season series, which concludes on Jan. 18 in L.A. – the third time they will meet in a 19-day span. San Jose has won four straight on home ice, and is 13-4-0 at SAP Center. The Kings will be playing their 10th road game in the last 11, where they are 7-11-3.
***As is typical in games between the Pacific Division rivals, who have met in the playoffs three of the last four seasons, it got a bit chippy in the third period of Saturday’s tilt. Thornton and Dustin Brown got into it in the faceoff circle, and moments later Thornton steamrolled the former Kings captain from behind. A slash by Thornton to Los Angeles defenseman Derek Forbort’s arm followed, and earned him a two-minute minor.
Could we see more unpleasantness tonight?
“Every game against the Kings, it’s usually a big game for both teams,” Thornton said. “Tonight will probably go the same way. High-intensity game.”
DeBoer didn’t mind Thornton’s extra-cirricular activity on Saturday.
“He’s as competitive a guy as we have in the room,” DeBoer said. “I think in a game where you’re getting pushed out a little bit, I like a little pushback from our guys, and he’s usually the first guy in line for that.”
As for Brown’s perspective, he didn’t seem to be dwelling on it. On Monday, he told LA Kings Insider: “I just wasn’t expecting the hit. He was [coming] from the backside, so it is what it is. I’m alright with it.”
***Marc-Edouard Vlasic will miss his second straight game with a facial injury, and David Schlemko is also out tonight with an upper body injury, perhaps from a hit by the Kings' Jordan Nolan on Saturday. That means Mirco Mueller will play his first game with the Sharks since April 9, which was also his only NHL appearance of the calendar year 2016.
“He’s earned the right to get up here,” DeBoer said of the 21-year-old former first round pick. “Just do what all the other young guys that have stepped in the lineup have done. Play your game, help contribute, and we’re confident he can do that.”
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Justin Braun. Missing his partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic for at least the next two games, Braun will look to rebound from his tough outing on Saturday when he was paired with David Schlemko, and was on the ice for both of the Kings’ even strength goals. Braun will likely be paired with Brenden Dillon on Tuesday, so they'll likely get plenty of ice time with the inexperienced third pairing consisting of Mirco Mueller and Dylan DeMelo.
Kings: Drew Doughty. The defenseman snapped a 10-game goal drought with a power play goal against the Sharks on Saturday, while skating a game-high 28:47. The 27-year-old defending Norris Trophy winner, who’s third in the NHL in ice time, helped keep the Sharks’ top line from having any sort of impact on the game during five-on-five play.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Micheal Haley – Joel Ward
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Dylan DeMelo
Martin Jones (starter)
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel
Peter Budaj (starter)
Sharks: David Schlemko (upper body), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (face) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.
Kings: Jonathan Quick (groin) and Tyler Toffoli (lower body) are out.
“Just got to stay above him, know when he’s on the ice. He’s playing good hockey right now. He’s one of those guys when he’s got the puck on his stick, he can make stuff happen.” – Justin Braun, on facing Jeff Carter, who is tied for second in the NHL with 20 goals