Sharks

NHL Gameday: Sharks play first of two straight with rival Kings

NHL Gameday: Sharks play first of two straight with rival Kings

Programming note – Sharks-Kings coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 23-12-1, 47 points, 1st Pacific Division
Kings: 17-15-4, 38 points, 5th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks bring a four-game winning streak into the first of two consecutive meetings with the Kings at Staples Center. San Jose has won eight of its last nine overall, including Friday night’s 2-0 shutout of the Flyers at SAP Center. They continue to lead the Pacific Division, with a three-point lead and a game in hand over second place Edmonton.

San Jose has played on New Year’s Eve nine times, all on the road, going 7-1-1.

***Los Angeles has lost three straight (0-2-1), and is just 1-3-2 in its last six. The Kings have scored two or fewer goals in six of their last seven, and are missing second-leading scorer Tyler Toffoli, who has been out for the last four games with a lower body injury.

The Kings just completed a nine-game road swing (sandwiched around the Christmas break) with a 3-4-2 record, and will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 10. They are 10-4-1 at Staples Center.

***Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s status for the game is uncertain after he took a slap shot to the face late in Friday’s win. Coach Pete DeBoer said after the game that it was doubtful Vlasic would take the postgame flight to southern California.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Martin Jones. After a rare night off on Friday, Jones will presumably return to the net against the Kings tonight and again on Tuesday in the rematch at SAP Center. He’s had tremendous success against his former team, with a 5-1-1 record, 2.12 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in seven appearances. He’s tied for second in the NHL with 19 wins and is eighth in GAA (2.08).

Kings: Dustin Brown. In his first season after getting stripped of the captaincy, Brown has 15 points (4g, 11a) in 35 games, and with a team-worst minus-10 rating. He’s skating on the top line lately with the equally cold Anze Kopitar, and has just one goal in his last 17 games. Still, Brown can impact the game in other ways, as Sharks fans well know. He leads the Kings with 95 hits.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
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
David Schlemko – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Kings
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
Jeff Zatkoff

INJURIES

Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (face) is doubtful. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Kings: Jonathan Quick (groin) and Tyler Toffoli (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“Guys are getting into the [shooting] lanes, even up by two goals with 30 seconds left. We're doing it for Deller, or if Jones is in there, we're doing the same thing. We take a lot of pride in the D zone." – Justin Braun

Sharks vs. Ducks watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

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USATSI

Sharks vs. Ducks watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

After losing four straight games, the Sharks have to find a way to get back in the win column against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. 

San Jose dropped its fourth straight game on Thursday, losing to the Pacific Division-worst Los Angeles Kings. Top-line center Logan Couture was a late scratch from Thursday’s lineup due to flu-like symptoms, further hampering a lineup already missing top goal-scorer Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson.

The Sharks recalled forward Dylan Gambrell and defenseman Nick DeSimone from the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, according to the AHL's transactions page. Defenseman Jacob Middleton, who didn't play in his recent stint with the big club, returned to the AHL on Thursday night. 

After gaining zero points in the last four games, San Jose remains in second place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks are five points behind the Calgary Flames and five points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Ducks, much like the Kings, haven’t exactly had the season they hoped for -- thanks in large part to injuries the roster has sustained throughout the course of the season. With just 69 points on the season, Anaheim sits nine points out of the second wild card spot. The Ducks have won three of their last six games, but are coming off a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. 

This is the fourth and final time the Sharks and Ducks will play each other this season, with the Sharks leading the season series 2-1-0. In 139 total meetings between the franchises, San Jose has a 72-54-4-9 record against Anaheim.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Gustav Nyquist
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Tim Heed
Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun

Aaron Dell – projected starter
Martin Jones

[RELATED: Watch Ron Burgundy show off hilarious Sharks knowledge on Kings broadcast]

Ducks projected lines and pairs

Nick Ritchie – Ryan Getzlaf – Daniel Sprong
Rickard Rakell – Devin Shore – Jakob Silfverberg
Corey Perry – Adam Henrique – Troy Terry
Max Jones – Derek Grant – Carter Rowney

Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Cam Fowler – Andy Welinski
Jaycob Megna – Korbinian Holzer

John Gibson – projected starter
Ryan Miller

Banged-up Sharks make no excuses for losing streak after loss to Kings

Banged-up Sharks make no excuses for losing streak after loss to Kings

After the Sharks' losing streak hit four games in a 4-2 loss to the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Brent Burns summarized it best to reporters in L.A.

“Every loss is doomsday, and every win feels good.”

Unfortunately for the Sharks, that doesn’t make Thursday’s defeat at the hands of the Kings sting any less.

With the defeat, the Sharks matched their season-long losing streak at four games – against the second-worst team in the entire NHL, no less. San Jose even entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, having taken over the pace of play in the second stanza and hemming even the Kings' best players in their own end.

Then, the Kings scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to emerge victorious. 

Meanwhile, the two Pacific Division teams bookending the Sharks in the standings – the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights – are both on hot streaks and kept winning on Thursday while Team Teal was in L.A.

Nobody’s going to sugarcoat it – the Sharks know they have to be better.

“It’s a wake-up call for us,” center Tomas Hertl said. “We have to be ready because we have just eight games left. We saw how Calgary is playing right now, and we have to step it up.”

As if the Sharks weren’t already desperate for a win after dropping three straight contests, they got some bad news just before pregame warmups that center Logan Couture was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. With captain Joe Pavelski and defenseman Erik Karlsson already out, San Jose needed someone else to fill that void. 

“It’s always tough when you’re missing players like that,” Hertl said. “But we have a lot of skill and we didn’t improve (on) it today.”

Coach Peter DeBoer doubled down on not making excuses for big players being out of the lineup.

“You got to win this game anyway,” he told reporters. “You’ve got to find a way. Someone’s got to step up and be a first star. You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that.”

[RELATED: Watch Ron Burgundy's funny call of Hertl's goal vs. Kings]

With only eight games left in the regular season, San Jose needs to right the ship before embarking on a playoff run.

Getting Couture, Pavelski, and Karlsson back in the lineup healthy will certainly help. But, the Sharks' defensive effort and overall level of intensity has to be better. They’ve been outscored 19-9 over these last four games, and gone 1-for-13 on the power play. While there’s concern over this losing stretch, the Sharks have to buckle down and find a way to win immediately. 

“We’ve got to find a way to win some games,” DeBoer said. “We’re a little bit beat up, but you can’t use excuses this time of year. We need some guys to find another level for us. At this time of year, you need someone to give you a first-star performance either in net or up front or somewhere to stop the bleeding. We haven’t gotten that.”