Kings look to end season series with Sharks on high note

NHL Hockey

It’s a quick turnaround for the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings as the teams prepare for a rematch Saturday night in San Jose.

Saturday marks the final regular-season matchup between the teams. San Jose leads the series 6-1-0 following a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night, their fifth win in six games.

While Friday’s effort wasn’t their cleanest, Sharks captain Logan Couture acknowledged his team’s push to dig out a win.

“Tonight, we were OK,” he told the media after the game. “We gave up some Grade-A chances but found a way to win.”

The Sharks’ recent success is due in large part to starting goaltender Martin Jones, who improved to 15-8-2 for the season after Friday’s 32-save performance. Jones has tallied a win in seven of his past 10 starts, five of which have been against the Kings.

Sharks coach Bob Boughner didn’t reveal whether he would start Jones again on the tail end of the back-to-back but was complimentary of his play in Friday’s matchup.

“Jones was our best player tonight, and he made big saves at the right time,” Boughner said. “We haven’t discussed (starting him again on Saturday.) We have to be careful. It’s about how the team is playing in front.”

There’s no doubt the Kings would go after Jones with even more gusto in Saturday’s game after the strong effort he registered against them on Friday. The defeat marked Los Angeles’ fourth loss in five games, three of which have been against San Jose.

The Kings took an early lead Friday, going up 1-0 just 2:27 into the game on an Alex Iafallo goal, but the game quickly got away from them as the Sharks responded with three first-period goals.

“Obviously, getting the first goal was a positive,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “But then we hit the snooze button for a little bit. So the next thing you know we’re down 3-1, so that’s certainly not the recipe for success.”

With that kind of performance, Kings coach Todd McLellan understandably was irked after the game despite his team’s dominating play for stretches at a time.

“I thought coming in here I was going to get a lot of questions about the breakaways, the power play, all the chances we didn’t capitalize on,” he said. “It’s the garbage we’re giving up defensively — long chances again. Every time we play this team, it’s a long chance. Poor pinch, a poor cover, and it’s in our net. We chase the game night after night.”

But even with his team at 3-7-0 over the past 10 games, McLellan isn’t giving up on his team’s season.

“‘Next season’ and ‘the end of the road’ — we’re not using those words,” he said. “We’re playing again tomorrow against this team.”

–Field Level Media

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