NHL

more stats

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 3rd (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Kings (45-26-6) at San Jose Sharks (48-20-9), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - While Thursday night will mark the final regular season meeting between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, the two clubs appear on track for a first-round playoff matchup in a few weeks.

The top three teams in each division earn playoff spots, with the second and third-place teams meeting in the opening round.

The Sharks currently are second in the Pacific Division with 105 points, three back of the first-place Anaheim Ducks and with one fewer game left on the schedule. The Ducks are idle tonight after besting the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Those two clubs had already secured playoff berths and the third-place Kings joined them thanks to last night's 4-0 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes. That assured Los Angeles at least third place in the division, though it trails San Jose by nine points with just five to play.

That makes a first-round matchup between these clubs likely, with San Jose having home-ice advantage.

Though the Kings have won three of four versus the Sharks this season and five of the previous seven meetings overall, they had lost seven straight in San Jose before a 1-0 victory there on Jan. 27.

Anze Kopitar had the lone goal and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the shutout, while back Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock took a tough-luck loss with 20 saves.

Quick notched his sixth shutout of the season last night, making 17 saves to top the Coyotes. His 31 career shutouts are just one behind Rogie Vachon for the most in club history and Quick secured Los Angeles' 12th shutout as a team this season, a new franchise best.

Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist, while Drew Doughty also tallied in his club's seventh victory in eight games.

The Kings are 15-4-0 in their last 19 games and secured their fifth straight trip to the postseason, but that is no longer the benchmark for a team that won the Stanley Cup in 2012.

"Maybe four or five years ago, this was a big deal," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "Now this is just part of the process. It is good to get it out of the way now when we need to use our remaining games to get our game in order."

Los Angeles picked up its 45th victory of the campaign, one shy of a single- season club record set in 1990-91 and matched in both 2009-10 and 2010-11.

With the Kings just about locked into third place, backup Martin Jones is likely to give Quick a break tonight. Jones has recorded three of the Kings' 12 shutouts this season and beat the Sharks the only other time he faced them, stopping 31-of-32 shots faced in a 4-1 home victory on Dec. 19.

The Kings begin a four-game road trip against a Sharks club that halted a two- game slide by winning Tuesday's opener of a three-game residency 5-4 over the Oilers.

Patrick Marleau's power-play goal at the 12:31 mark of the third period lifted San Jose to the win, while Brent Burns and Dan Boyle added a goal and an assist each.

Antti Niemi stopped 25-of-29 shots as San Jose had to rally after failing to hold a 3-1 advantage.

"It's a bittersweet win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It was nice to see us come back and score five, and the power play contributed. Those types of things are nice, but I'm going to leave the rink a little more frustrated than excited. I still think our team looks lethargic. Not as much physically but mentally."

Joe Thornton finished with two assists and is second in the NHL with 63 helpers on the season.

Niemi is 11-6-3 with a 2.52 goals against average and two shutouts lifetime versus the Kings.

04/03 10:56:06 ET

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Hurricanes vs. Vancouver Canucks 2
Podcast: Canes a pleasant surprise at the break

Chuck Kaiton, voice of the Carolina Hurricanes, says the team's 16-25 record through the first half of the season has been a pleasant surprise in some ways.

Related Stories
  • ACC: Louisville at Pittsburgh

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Wednesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • WBB: Duke at UNC

    Tonight at 5:00 on 620am

  • ACC: NC State vs. Notre Dame

    Tonight at 6:30 on WRAL-FM

  • NFL: Pro Bowl

    Tonight at 8:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
2nd
STJ 53
DUKE 46
 
6:30pm Tonight
NCSU
ND
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
 
1st
CLE 0
OKC 0
 
6:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
6:00pm Tonight
PHO
LAC
6:00pm Tonight
ATL
MIN
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
DET
7:00pm Tonight
SAN
MIL
8:00pm Tonight
GSW
BOS
8:00pm Tonight
DEN
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
LAL
HOU
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
 
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
 
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
 
2nd
UCF 34
CIN 41
 
2nd
WICHS 53
DRAK 33
 
2nd
STJ 53
DUKE 46
 
2nd
MAR 47
FAIR 42
 
2nd
HART 53
MAINE 53
 
2nd
MAN 54
MON 54
 
2nd
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
2nd
SIENA 42
PETE 64
 
2nd
RIU 42
BONA 41
 
2nd
BING 40
USB 45
 
2nd
MLOWELL 40
VERM 48
 
1st
BUT 25
SHU 13
 
1st
SALA 25
YALE 14
 
4:00pm Today
PITT
LOU
4:00pm Today
ILLST
NIOWA
4:30pm Today
IONA
NIAG
 
4:30pm Today
GTDNS
UMBC
 
6:30pm Tonight
TENST
BEL
 
6:30pm Tonight
NCSU
ND
7:00pm Tonight
VILL
CREI
7:30pm Tonight
MD
NW
8:30pm Tonight
UTAH
WASH
5:00pm Tonight
TEAMFOLI
TEAMTOEWS
8:15pm Tonight
CARTER
IRVIN