The San Jose Sharks are set to host the Los Angeles Kings in a back-to-back set to wrap their season series beginning Friday evening.
Friday’s game marks the seventh time these California rivals will face each other this season. San Jose leads the series 5-1-0, including a two-game sweep of the Kings in Los Angeles last weekend.
It isn’t clear yet if top-line center Logan Couture will be in the lineup for Friday’s game after he was in visible pain from blocking a shot in Tuesday’s home game against the Anaheim Ducks. Head coach Bob Boughner told the media on Thursday he is optimistic the captain will be in the starting lineup against Los Angeles, but he won’t make a final decision until closer to game time.
The Sharks no doubt want Couture in the lineup to face the Kings after suffering a rough 5-1 loss at the hands of the Ducks on Tuesday. Five different Ducks scored goals in that game, a matchup that Boughner said his group didn’t look prepared for despite San Jose entering that tilt on a four-game winning streak.
“For whatever reason, we weren’t ready,” Boughner told the media after the loss to Anaheim. “They started on time; we didn’t. They had their legs; we didn’t.”
Boughner hadn’t named a starting goalie for Friday’s game as of Thursday afternoon, although it’s very likely Martin Jones will get the call. The 31-year-old netminder has won six of his past eight starts, including both games in San Jose’s previous back-to-back against Los Angeles. Boughner thought Jones had a good game in the loss to Anaheim.
“Jones played well, and we didn’t give him any support,” he said. “We got away with sloppy play last game (against Los Angeles on Saturday) and … we didn’t get away with it.”
While the Sharks had their winning streak snapped, the Kings busted out of a three-game losing skid with a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles entered the third frame of that game trailing 3-1 before exploding for a three-goal period. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Adrian Kempe, Jeff Carter and Carl Grundstrom all found the back of the net for the Kings while Drew Doughty, Trevor Moore and Kale Clague each recorded two assists.
“We weren’t ready to back down,” Clague said of the come-from-behind victory. “I’m really happy for everyone to get back on the winning track, and I know we all just want to carry that over into the weekend.”
The winning effort was led by Doughty, who was openly critical of how his team played after they dropped their previous matchup with the Coyotes on Monday, 5-2. Doughty followed up his comments by playing 29:15 minutes on Wednesday night and registering a plus-2.
“Well, that’s called leadership,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said postgame. “You put yourself out there with your words and then you follow it up through actions. And we are fortunate we have him and a few others that have been through some of the big battles here and won eventually.”
–Field Level Media