Sharks seek another offensive explosion against Kings
The San Jose Sharks exploded for a season-high goal total in their last game and will try to keep the momentum going as they shoot for a fourth straight win in tonight's home test against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
The Sharks have posted three straight wins at the start of a six-game homestand and are coming off Wednesday's 7-2 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning at HP Pavilion. The seven goals were one more than San Jose scored in a 6-3 rout of Phoenix in the season opener on Oct. 8.
San Jose jumped all over the Lightning, as Logan Couture scored twice in a first-period blitz to help the Sharks take a 5-1 lead by the end of the opening 20 minutes. Couture has 14 goals on the season to tie him for the team lead with Joe Pavelski, who tallied once in Wednesday's blowout.
"It was just one of those nights where the puck was following me around," said Couture. "It felt really good out there and we were able to jump on them quick."
Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau each had a goal and an assist while Ryane Clowe added three assists for the Sharks, who improved to 11-6-1 as the host this season. Antti Niemi stopped 22 shots in the win.
Sharks forward Michal Handzus also registered two assists against the Bolts and has one goal and five helpers during a five-game point streak.
Wednesday's offensive outburst was a good sign for the Sharks, who played their first game since speedy winger Martin Havlat suffered a freak hamstring injury that will keep him out for the next six-to-eight weeks. Havlat sustained the injury on a line change, as his leg was caught while trying to leap over the boards. The Czech veteran has two goals and 13 assists in 26 games this season.
The Kings, meanwhile, picked up a 3-2 shootout win Thursday over visiting Anaheim in Darryl Sutter's debut behind the LA bench. Sutter was officially named head coach of the Kings on Tuesday. He has guided an NHL team to the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons as a head coach and took over for Terry Murray, who was fired December 12 following a 13-12-4 start. John Stevens coached the Kings on an interim basis in the previous four games and went 2-2.
Dustin Brown scored the winner in the shootout for the Kings, burying a heavy wrister to the glove side of Jonas Hiller. Kyle Palmieri's wrister was then stopped by Jonathan Quick for the win. Quick turned aside 20 shots in the win.
"I thought we moved the puck pretty good and our penalty kill was excellent," said Sutter. "There are things we have to work on here, but it will get better and this was a nice start."
Mike Richards and Brown each had a goal in regulation for the Kings, who have won two straight and three of four.
Richards was playing in his first game since sustaining a head injury against Florida on Dec. 1. He has 10 goals in his last 12 games and is leading LA with 12 markers this season.
The Sharks and Kings have split the first two of six meetings this year with each team winning on home ice. LA has taken three of five overall from the Sharks, but San Jose has won two in a row and three of the last four encounters at HP Pavilion.
The Kings are 7-5-3 as the visiting team this year.