Surging Kings return home to host slumping Sharks

Surging Kings return home to host slumping Sharks

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks begin a stretch that will see them face off three times in eight days when L.A. hosts its Northern California rival on Thursday.The teams will play again in San Jose on Saturday and will complete their four-game season series back in Los Angeles on March 17. The Sharks defeated the Kings 6-2 in San Jose on Jan. 17, a game that saw Sharks forward Timo Meier score five goals.That victory brought the Sharks within a point of Los Angeles in the Pacific Division standings. But a 3-8-5 slide since then has dropped San Jose 16 points behind Los Angeles, which is 8-2-0 in its past 10 games and has won three in a row to move into second place in the division. The most recent victory came Monday, when Trevor Moore scored with 26 seconds remaining in regulation to send the Kings into overtime against the Boston Bruins, and Andreas Athanasiou scoring in OT for a 3-2 win.Monday’s game involved “a lot of heavy lifting for both teams,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “So good for our team to play in that. Really good for our team to play in it and stick with it. We found a way to get two in the last few minutes of the game and used every minute we had, which was important.”The Sharks have been off since a 3-2 overtime loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. They lost despite the play of rookie goalie Zach Sawchenko, who made 33 saves in his first NHL start.”Earning the trust to get a start, that’s a whole another step,” Sawchenko said. “So it’s all part of the process here. Just brick by brick, building a career and trusting the process.”Sawchenko and Alex Stalock are expected to handle San Jose’s goaltending until either James Reimer or Adin Hill are activated from injured reserve. Hill is closer than Reimer to returning, as Hill has been practicing in limited fashion.

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