NHL on NBCSN: Kovalchuk expected back as Kings visit Sharks
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Saturday afternoon’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks meet with a mountain of points between them in the Pacific Division standings.
The Sharks are sitting pretty in second place in the division while the Kings are plumb last in the Western Conference.
Still, it’s the Kings who are coming off a big win -- a 4-1 triumph against the mighty Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday -- and will be looking to build on that against the Sharks.
Los Angeles is also expected to get a boost to their lineup with the return of Ilya Kovalchuk, who has missed the past 10 games with an ankle injury. Perhaps the time off for Kovalchuk has also served as a reset for the 35-year-old, who went 11 games without a point prior to getting injured.
For the Kings, Saturday’s game is a chance to find some consistency.
“Being OK is a term that our (former) coach Darryl Sutter used back in the day. ‘OK is not OK.,’” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the Winnipeg win. “What he meant by that was, you know, you can’t be satisfied with coming in and just playing OK and going through the motions. In order to get consistent as an individual, you need to want to play amazing every single night. You need to want to make a difference every single night.”
[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 4 P.M. ET – NBCSN]
Unlike the Kings, the Sharks are coming off a defeat to the Jets, who beat them 5-3 on Thursday on the back of Nikolaj Ehlers’ hat trick.
It was San Jose’s first loss in five games, so think of it as more of a blip on the radar screen than anything else.
San Jose has been enjoying a more comfortable Erik Karlsson, who is finding his groove with his new team. Karlsson enters Saturday riding a seven-game point streak with eight assists during that span.
“He’s been great,” Sharks forward Evander Kane said. “You can tell he’s gotten a lot more comfortable out there. He’s making some of those plays that we’ve all seen him make. I think as a group we’re getting used to him as well. It’s a little bit of both, and it’s starting to click.”
The Sharks have benefitted from a revitalized power play as of later. In their first 18 games of the season, they were just 10-for-57 (17.5%) but have nearly doubled that over their past 18, going 16-for-50 (32%).
Randy Hahn (play-by-play) and Jim Fox (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from SAP Center San Jose. Paul Burmeister hosts studio coverage alongside analyst Mike Johnson.