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NHL on NBCSN: Kings, Sharks battle for home ice advantage

Apr 16, 2013, 9:07 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 16: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on March 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings at the HP Pavilion at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Just how important is home ice advance in the playoffs? Well, it would probably help these two teams, given that they’re a combined 30-5-6 at home this season and just 16-22-5 on the road.

That’s what’s at stake tonight as the Kings currently hold the fourth seed, but have a mere one-point lead over the Sharks. This is their second last game against each other and consequently one of their last opportunities to push down the other squad.

Naturally, given these teams’ disparity between their home and road records, the advantage would seem to be with San Jose tonight. However, the Sharks are at the end of a three games in four days stretch that included a contest in Phoenix last night.

San Jose won that match, but fatigue has to be a concern against the rested Kings.

For the Sharks, perhaps their biggest challenge tonight will be containing Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. When Carter’s hot, he’s one of the most dangerous scorers in the league and lately he has six goals in eight games. Meanwhile, Richards is taking a six-game point streak into this contest.

Although he played last night, the Sharks might counter with goaltender Antti Niemi. He earned a 35-save shutout against Phoenix on Monday and has traditionally been very good against the Kings in regular season games. He has a 9-4-2 record, 2.39 GAA, and .922 save percentage in 16 career non-playoffs starts against Los Angeles.

These two teams will also wrap up the season against each other on April 27 and at this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them meet each other in the playoffs.

Probable goaltenders: LAK – Jonathan Quick (15-12-3, 2.50 GAA, .898 SV%) | SJS – Niemi (21-10-6, 2.13 GAA, .925 SV%)

Top scorers: LAK – Anze Kopitar (10-27-37, 41 GP) | SJS – Joe Thornton (7-30-37, 42 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Los Angeles – Defensemen: Willie Mitchell (knee), Matt Greene (back)
San Jose – Defensemen: Scott Hannan (upper body)

  1. manchestermiracle - Apr 16, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    As the 8th seed last year the Kings had no home-ice advantage in any series and 3 of their 4 losses occurred at home. They seemed much more focused when on the road and less so when enjoying the comforts of home. Unless they can transfer home-ice regular season success this year to the playoffs that “advantage” doesn’t mean much to them.

  2. kingsforever - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Yeah but this year they’ve been better at home. Last season they were better on the road.

  3. ethanmacleod1685 - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    This is gonna be a good one

  4. blomfeld - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    “It does not matter where, be it on ground of his choosing or ours … the enemy is here today and therefore we will engage him and we will prevail, just as we’ve always done” …

    Fellow King’s fans … we mustn’t quibble about where the fight “ought” to take place. Be it at Staples, their place or on the bloody moon, who gives a crap ! The bottom line friends is that “we’re” the reigning Stanley Cup champions and so nowhere is safe for any of them, period !

    GO KINGS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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