On an untimely three-game losing streak as they fight for the Pacific Division title, the San Jose Sharks head to Los Angeles for a Thursday game against the Kings knowing that they have been here before, with knowledge on how to remedy the situation.
The Sharks will enter the contest three points behind the Calgary Flames for first place in the division. Both teams have nine games remaining.
San Jose is exiting a miserable three-game homestand where it was outscored 15-7 and lost games to the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights. The most recent defeat to the Knights was a 7-3 thrashing Monday that gave San Jose its first three-game home losing streak in three years.
Having that playoff spot in hand might be enough to get the Sharks playing free and easy again, but a return to an aggressive goal-oriented style of play could be in the works as well
The Sharks did lose three consecutive games as recently as Jan. 16-21, spinning out of that funk with a seven-goal game against the Washington Capitals, although they still needed overtime to win that one.
That victory started a six-game winning streak for the Sharks.
"You can't be worried what you are doing three weeks from now; we need points now," Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said, according to nhl.com. "It doesn't matter what happens in the (recent) past, you just move forward. We need to get back to our game, get in deep, less turnovers in the neutral zone and forecheck."
Long out of playoff contention, the Kings seem as if they trying to do more than simply play out the string of games on their schedule, at least lately. They played to a tight one-goal defeat to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday and lost another one-goal game Saturday to a Florida Panthers team trying to scramble back into wild-card contention.
The loss to the Jets officially eliminated them from playoff contention.
But overall, the Kings are 1-6 in their last seven games and 2-12-4 over their last 18. Two Stanley Cup titles since 2012 and a run of seven playoff appearances in nine seasons, through the 2017-18 season, seems to have caught up to them now.
The Kings can still leave their mark on teams aiming to improve their standing before the playoffs. Of their 10 games remaining, they still have matchups against the Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights and two against the first-place Calgary Flames.
"It's definitely a sour taste," Kings center Anze Kopitar said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "This whole year has been disappointing. ... Not one guy in this room should be just OK with what's been going on this year."
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski (lower body) did not play Monday against the Golden Knights, the first game he has missed this season. Pavelski is not expected to play Thursday either after taking a hard hit Saturday against the Predators, crashing awkwardly in to the boards. The Kings have no significant injuries.
--Field Level Media
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