NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (21-7-6) at Los Angeles Kings (23-8-4), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings take aim at an eighth victory in nine games on Thursday night as they resume their homestand versus the San Jose Sharks.
The Kings had a six-game winning streak halted on Sunday in the finale of a four-game road trip, falling 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks. However, they bounced back on Tuesday in the first of four in a row at home, shutting out the Edmonton Oilers 3-0.
Rookie Martin Jones notched 24 saves to record his third shutout in six career starts. He is the first Kings goaltender in franchise history to begin a career 6-0-0 and has done so while allowing just five goals on 177 shots faced for a 0.82 goals against average and .972 save percentage.
Jones was recalled from the minors to back up Ben Scrivens when Jonathan Quick was lost to a groin strain in mid-November, but has become one of the biggest surprises of the season.
"It's been a good start, I just want to make sure I keep doing the little things here and you know we played pretty well the last little stretch here so we just want to make sure that we finish out the last three games before the break here in the right way," said Jones.
Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Dustin Brown all scored for the Kings, who are 11-4-2 at home this season.
Los Angeles' current surge has put the club second in the Pacific Division with 50 points, three back of first-place Anaheim and two ahead of San Jose, which has just two victories in its last seven games.
One of those came on Tuesday, a 4-2 triumph over the St. Louis Blues that gave the Sharks a sweep of the three-game season series.
"It's really good to get the three wins," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "They're a team that had our number. Tonight, I don't think it was indicative of what can happen down the road if we meet in the playoffs."
Matt Irwin and Marty Havlat had a goal and an assist each, while Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns added goals. Burns' ninth tally of the season was his first since a hat trick versus the Blues on Nov. 29.
San Jose snapped a four-game road slide, but has lost three straight and seven of its last eight in Los Angeles.
That includes a 4-3 overtime setback in L.A. on Oct. 30, but the Sharks did counter with a 3-2 shootout win at home on Nov. 27.
Niemi started both of the previous encounters, moving to 11-5-3 with a 2.44 GAA in his career versus the Kings.
Jones has never faced the Sharks, while Scrivens made his first start against them in the shootout setback.
12/19 11:54:00 ET