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Apr 4, 2024 7:59 am

Records aside, Kings keeping keen eye on struggling Sharks

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings will try to continue capitalizing on a favorable closing schedule when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

Los Angeles (39-25-11, 89 points) will face just one playoff-bound team over its final seven games, including four against the bottom three teams in the NHL standings.

The Kings didn’t let the visiting Seattle Kraken off the hook on Wednesday night, winning 5-2 to eliminate them from playoff contention.

The victory pulled the Kings within a point of the Nashville Predators for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The win also gave them a five-point cushion over the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card.

Los Angeles also is just three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division.

“All the points are important right now,” Kings forward Trevor Moore said after recording his second NHL hat trick in the win against the Kraken.

Kings forward Phillip Danault won’t travel to San Jose, Los Angeles interim coach Jim Hiller said after the win over Seattle.

Danault has been a game-time decision the past two games with an upper-body injury but ended up missing both. Danault is sixth on the Kings with 17 goals.

In his absence, Los Angeles went with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Kraken.

The Sharks (17-49-8, 42 points) might seem like easy prey after dropping 19 of their past 21 games (2-16-3), but coach David Quinn had some sharp things to say after San Jose lost 4-2 to the visiting Kraken on Monday. Perhaps those words could inspire the Sharks.

“There’s a pattern going on now where we’ve gotten off to bad starts the last three games,” Quinn said. “We have to do a better job of being ready to go at the drop of the puck. You don’t have much of a chance in this league when you’re only playing 40 minutes.”

After the Sharks fell behind 3-1 in the first period against Seattle, Klim Kostin halved the deficit early in the second period, and that score remained until the Kraken produced an empty-net goal with eight seconds left.

“All year, I think our resilience is something that we pride ourselves on,” Sharks defenseman Kyle Burroughs said. “Being able to climb back and never say die and keep fighting.”

Kostin’s goal was his fourth in 12 games since he was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Radim Simek and a 2024 seventh-round pick.

“I just feel alive again and enjoying hockey with the Sharks and just want to pay back for the coaching (staff’s) trust,” Kostin said.

Mackenzie Blackwood will start in goal for the Sharks on Thursday. He is 2-0-2 in four career starts against the Kings with a 1.74 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and one of his 10 NHL shutouts.

Blackwood most recently faced the Kings on Jan. 14, 2023, allowing two goals on 37 shots in a 5-2 victory when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils.

The Sharks know they’ll face a determined opponent.

“You have to be engaged physically if you’re going to give yourself a chance,” Quinn said.

–Field Level Media

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