Kings Continue Homestand Facing Division-Leading Sharks

(Sports Network) - Closing in on another Pacific Division title, the Sharks are getting offense from just about everywhere. The Kings' playoff chances took a bit of a hit with the loss of forward Justin Williams. Los Angeles won't have Williams for the rest of the regular season and continue a five-game homestand without the forward tonight against the streaking Sharks at the Staples Center.

The Kings are 1-1-1 so far on their residency and snapped a two-game slide with Monday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Flames. Jarret Stoll scored in regulation and tallied in the tie breaker, as did Anze Kopitar.

Jonathan Quick ended with 27 saves as Los Angeles improved to 5-1-2 in its last eight and is tied with Chicago and Nashville for the fifth spot in the Western Conference, one more than eighth-place Anaheim and two up on Dallas.

"That was 20 guys out there, 40 guys out there that put a heck of a performance on," said Los Angeles head coach Terry Murray. "That was intense, very playoff-like, and a lot of good things on both sides. It was a fun game to play and a fun game to coach."

What wasn't fun was the loss of Williams to a dislocated shoulder after he collided with Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr late in the third period. The 29- year-old is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks, meaning Williams could return for the playoffs should the Kings qualify.

Williams had 22 goals and 35 assists in 73 games, and Los Angeles recalled Oscar Moller from the minors to replace Williams on the roster. The Kings could also have Kyle Clifford back tonight after he sat out two straight with a head injury, but replacing Williams won't be easy.

"It's hard to match the production," Murray told the Kings' website of Williams. "He's had a good year. He has played well, right from the very first day. When you start losing offense, it seems like it never ends, where you're searching for that kind of a player."

The loss of Williams could put more pressure on Quick, who is 5-2-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average lifetime versus the Sharks.

Also working against Los Angeles is that San Jose comes into this meeting fresh off a perfect three-game homestand that ran its winning streak to four straight. The Sharks are also 13-2-2 in their past 17 and lead the Coyotes by three points for the top spot in the division with a game in hand and eight contests to play.

San Jose is also a point back of Detroit for the second seed out West and is coming off Wednesday's 6-3 triumph over Calgary. Patrick Marleau scored twice to record 30 goals for the fifth time in his career, while Torrey Mitchell added his first career two-goal game and Andrew Desjardins tallied his first NHL goal.

"It's great to have everyone out there contribute," said Marleau. "We're gonna need everyone to contribute down the stretch and in the playoffs. It's fun when everyone is scoring out there."

Marleau has seven goals and 14 points over his last 10 games, while Joe Pavelski had two assists to give him an incredible 10 helpers and 13 points over his last five games.

Antti Niemi made his 29th straight start and totaled 22 saves. He is 4-1-1 with a 1.64 GAA in his career versus the Kings, but could give way tonight to Antero Niittymaki if the Sharks want to rest him on the second of back-to-back nights.

Niittymaki hasn't started since Jan. 13 due to injury and solid play by Niemi, and is 2-0-2 with a 1.92 GAA against the Kings.

These Pacific Division rivals have split their last eight games, including four meetings this year. The Kings halted a three-game series home losing streak in the last meeting at the Staples Center on Jan. 26, with Stoll scoring in the fourth round of a shootout.

For more news and information on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Jewels From The Crown.

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