The Los Angeles Kings have been playing good hockey as of late to rebound from a slow start to the season.
However, the margin for error is small due to the shortened season and the Kings will try to avoid a second straight loss on Thursday night with the opener of a home-and-home series with the San Jose Sharks.
Los Angeles began defense of its Stanley Cup title with just a 3-5-2 record, but went into Tuesday's meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes having won four of five and nine of its previous 11.
Playing for the third time in four days, the Kings dropped a 5-2 decision despite power-play goals from Dustin Brown and Mike Richards. Jonathan Quick yielded all five goals on 29 shots.
"We were tired, they were fresh," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "Simple. Not hard to figure out."
Though 11 points back of first place in the Pacific Division, Los Angeles is tied for fourth in the Western Conference with 30 points. It will play its second straight on the road, where the club is 5-7-1 this season, before returning home for five straight.
Brown knows just how vital it is to get points every night and the Kings face five straight divisional games. After hosting the Sharks on Saturday, they'll play two in a row against the Coyotes before hosting Dallas.
"I think it's important for us to realize that we got off to a rough start and we've been playing better hockey as of late, but we need to continue to," Brown said after Tuesday's loss. "If you look at the standings, any night you're not getting points, you're falling, and that's just the reality of the Western Conference and the shortened season.
"We need to have the ability to kind of put this one away and get ready and focus on San Jose, because there's nothing we can do about tonight's result. We've got to just keep moving forward."
The Kings will look to move forward in their first meeting with the Sharks this season. Los Angeles lost four of six against the division rivals last season and has come up without a win in four straight and 10 of the past 13 in San Jose.
The Sharks, though, bring a four-game skid (0-2-2) into this contest and were bested 4-2 in St. Louis on Tuesday despite outshooting the Blues 41-21.
Brent Burns scored his first goal of the season and was activated off of injured reserve before the game. He had missed seven in a row due to a lower body injury and the blueliner played forward in the game for the first time as a Shark.
"It's nice to score but it's nicer to win," said Burns. "We put a lot of shots on them, but their guy was great tonight. Sometimes you run into a hot goaltender and that's the way it goes."
Dan Boyle also scored for the Sharks, who are tied for eighth in the West with 28 points. Antti Niemi took the loss, after making only 17 saves.
San Jose, which begins a five-game road trip on Saturday, is still trying to give head coach Todd McLellan his franchise-leading 207th career win. McLellan tied Ron Wilson for the most victories in club history on March 5.