Thanks to eight wins in their last nine games, the San Jose Sharks find themselves squarely back in the Pacific Division race despite a dreadful start that saw them win just four times in their first 15.
The Sharks, who have climbed to fifth in the division and are only a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, travel to Los Angeles on Monday to face a Kings squad that has the fewest points (19) in the West.
San Jose comes in off back-to-back 2-1 overtime wins at Vegas on Thursday and at home against the red-hot New York Islanders on Saturday. Logan Couture scored the game-winners in both contests, tapping in his own rebound on a breakaway against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights, and then one-timing an Evander Kane feed from the right circle against the Islanders, who failed to win for just the second time in 17 games (15-0-2).
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer called the victory over New York “a pretty gutsy effort.” San Jose won despite taking six penalties, as they managed to kill off all six.
“It was an emotional win in Vegas,” DeBoer added. “Coming back, this is a tough game. Some people would call it a ‘trap game.’ But we are playing the hottest team in league, so I thought that got us engaged right off the bat.”
“We could have been smarter and not taken as many penalties,” DeBoer added. “But we found a way, and (that’s) been kind of the story lately.”
San Jose tied an NHL record by winning its 43rd straight game when allowing two goals or fewer dating back to March 20, 2018, including 7-0-0 this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins set the record between Feb. 21, 2012 and Oct. 17, 2013.
“We found a way to win,” Couture said. “I thought our (penalty) kill was excellent, and (goaltender Martin Jones) was excellent as well. … The big thing is we want to keep pace. We are right in it now after that horrendous start and have given ourselves the opportunity to collect more points.”
The Sharks now travel south to face their longtime division rivals, who had a five-game home win streak snapped Saturday by Arizona, 3-2. The Kings, who are 7-5-0 at home, have won four of their past six games, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Pacific Division-leading Edmonton on Thursday. Both losses in the current run came against the second-place Coyotes.
Los Angeles, which outshot Arizona 45-19 on Saturday, fell behind 1-0 midway through the first period but were still in it until Christian Fischer scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on an empty-netter with 2:10 left in the game that made it 3-1.
“We came up short which was disappointing, but we battled hard for the last 40 minutes,” forward Blake Lizotte said. “I didn’t think our first 20 were very good. But the last 40 I thought for the most part we competed hard. I think it’s a testament to our aggressive play.”
This is the first of four meetings between the teams. The teams split their four meetings last season, with the Kings winning 4-2 victory in Los Angeles in their final meeting.
–Field Level Media