(Sports Network) - A potential first-round playoff series is on tap Saturday
in Los Angeles, as the Kings host the San Jose Sharks in the final regular-
season game for both teams.
With both teams already having clinched playoff spots, the Kings and Sharks
will battle Saturday afternoon for postseason positioning. The clubs are
currently tied at 57 points for the fifth seed with St. Louis sitting one
point ahead in fourth. The Blues also play their final regular-season game on
Saturday, as they host top-seeded Chicago.
San Jose and Los Angeles can finish no further than sixth after Minnesota lost
in regulation to Edmonton on Friday. The Kings and Sharks would play each
other in the first round if both teams occupy the fourth and fifth seeds after
San Jose has won four of five and seven of the last 10 meetings in this
series. The Kings' lone win in three matchups in 2013 did come on home ice, as
L.A. notched a 5-2 rout of the Sharks on March 16. It was San Jose's fifth
loss in its last six regular-season games at the Staples Center.
The Kings enter Saturday having lost two straight in regulation and the
defending Stanley Cup champions haven't dropped three in a row since opening
this season on an 0-2-1 slide.
The latest setback came Wednesday in Detroit, as Jordin Tootoo and Johan
Franzen tallied in the third period to snap a tie and lift the Red Wings to a
3-1 win at Joe Louis Arena.
Kyle Clifford provided the lone offense for the Kings, who have lost three of
five. Jonathan Quick played well in defeat, making 33 saves.
"I guess if you got home ice, it would be important," Kings head coach Darryl
Sutter said. "Last year we were hanging on for the eighth spot and this year
we clinched sixth two or three games ago. That's the only difference."
Kings captain Dustin Brown will serve the final portion of a two-game
suspension for elbowing Minnesota's Jason Pominville on Tuesday. Brown will be
eligible to return for Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
San Jose has won four of its last six games, but has suffered losses in two of
its past three trips to the ice.
The Sharks last played on Wednesday, when they were handed a 2-1 regulation
loss at Phoenix. Keith Yandle scored the deciding goal late in the first
period and Mike Smith stopped 33 shots to help the Coyotes record the close
Brent Burns notched the lone score and Thomas Greiss made 30 saves for the
San Jose was able to put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Coyotes in the
final minute, but was never able to record the equalizer. As time ticked away,
Smith attempted to clear the puck up the middle, but it never left the zone,
and he was forced to make saves on Burns and Dan Boyle in rapid succession
before the buzzer sounded.
"I liked the effort," Boyle said. "We had a lot of chances."
San Jose fell to 8-13-2 as the visiting team this season, while Los Angeles is
18-4-1 at the Staples Center.
The Sports Network