Sharks, Kings meet again on NHL odds slate

By: Barry Daniels | Friday, December 31, 2010
Jonathan Quick

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is 18-8-1-0 with a miniscule 2.05 GAA.

The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings usher in 2011 five days after Jonathan Quick and the Kings blanked the Sharks in San Jose as 140 road underdogs, 4-0. Both squads enter the contest with 45 points, two points behind the surprising first-place Dallas Stars in the Pacific Division.

Kings forward Trevor Lewis broke open a scoreless game early in the third period of that Dec. 27 contest, while Quick registered 24 saves for his fourth shutout this season.

Dustin Brown scored twice and former San Jose forward Marco Strum also scored in the third as the Kings broke open a close game to snap a three-game losing streak to San Jose. Anze Kopitar had three assists.

Sharks netminder Antti Niemi stopped 33-of-37 shots to absorb the loss. Both squads went 0-for-3 on the power play.

That 4-0 Los Angles victory avenged a 6-3 loss to the Sharks on Nov. 15 at San Jose in their only other matchup this season.

This will be the first game between these Pacific Division foes at Los Angeles this season. That is good new for San Jose, considering the club is 15-5 in the last 20 series meetings at Staples Center.

The Sharks enter this contest after snapping a two-game losing skid during Thursday’s 5-3 victory against Chicago as 135 road underdogs. The win raised San Jose’s road ledger to 10-8-2-0.

The combined eight goals leaped above the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 6-2 in San Jose’s last eight road efforts and 21-17 in its first 38 overall outings. However, the ‘under’ is 7-3 in the club’s last 10 overall encounters.

Niemi made 26 saves in his first appearance at the United Center since backstopping the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title last spring. He improved to 3-0 against his former club, and the Sharks won their third straight against a Chicago team that had swept them from the Western Conference finals last spring.

Niemi is now 8-9-1-1 in his first 19 starts in a San Jose uniform. He has a bloated 3.08 GAA and an unimpressive .899 save percentage.

The Kings enter this contest mired in a mini two-game losing skid thanks to Thursday’s 7-4 loss against Philadelphia as 110 home favorites. The setback lowered the Kings’ record at Staples Center to 13-3-1-0, which is still one of the best home records in the league.

Though the combined 11 goals soared ‘over’ the NHL odds, the ‘under’ is still 6-1-1 in the Kings’ last eight home games and 13-4-1-1 in their last 18 efforts. The ‘under’ is now 23-13-1 in the club’s first 37 overall encounters.

The Kings have allowed 13 goals during the two-game slide, including four power play goals during the 10 times they have been shorthanded.

However, Los Angeles is still ranked a respectable 10th in penalty killing, fighting off 84.2 percent of its chances. The Kings allow 2.4 goals per game, which ranks fourth. The offense is scoring 2.9 GPG, which ranks 12th.

Quick has been the main reason for the Kings’ defensive success. The 24-year-old is 18-8-1-0 with a miniscule 2.05 GAA and a sparkling .924 save percentage. He also has recorded four shutouts.

The Kings continue their season-high eight-game homestand Monday by hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Sharks return to San Jose on Monday to begin a three-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks.

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