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Kings, Sharks tangle in Pacific Division showdown

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings will begin their 2008-09 schedule on the road this evening when they visit the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

San Jose, meanwhile, had its season opener on Thursday night and posted a 4-1 victory over the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Jonathan Cheechoo scored a pair of goals to help lift the Sharks.

Christian Ehrhoff and Devin Setoguchi also scored for the Sharks, who got a win for new head coach Todd McLellan in his regular-season debut behind the bench. Milan Michalek and Rob Blake registered a pair of assists apiece.

Evgeni Nabokov, who had his finest season as an NHL goaltender in 2007-08 and was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, made 28 saves to get the win.

San Jose finished atop the Pacific Division last season with 108 points and beat Calgary in the first round, but was knocked out by Dallas in the conference semifinals, marking the third straight year that the club was eliminated in the second round.

San Jose's biggest offseason addition in defenseman Dan Boyle had an assist and immediately became the anchor on defense for a Stanley Cup hopeful Sharks squad. Boyle, who was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay during the summer, topped all teammates with 25-plus minutes of ice time, including a team-high 8:54 on the power-play unit.

Unlike the Sharks, who are considered to be strong contenders for the Cup, the Kings and general manager Dean Lombardi are still on course with a full- fledged youth movement. LA has recorded just 139 total points in the standings over the last two seasons and it's still uncertain if LA has hit rock-bottom yet.

Los Angeles is not expected to contend for a playoff spot once again. The team actually got younger this summer after dealing away veteran defensemen Rob Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky as well as 26-year-old winger Mike Cammalleri. Lombardi also opted to change coaches after the season, firing Marc Crawford and replacing him with Terry Murray.

The Kings are still living for the future and this year they could further that cause by earning the first overall pick in next summer's draft.

LA had lost three straight season-opening contests prior to defeating Anaheim to kick off the 2007-08 NHL campaign in London, England.

The Sharks and Kings split eight meetings last season, but San Jose has still taken seven of the last 11 encounters overall. LA has earned victories in five of its previous nine trips to Silicon Valley.

10/11 11:07:01 ET