NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as the San Jose Sharks host the L.A. Kings at Levi’s Stadium at 10:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
The lone Stadium Series game this season sees the L.A. Kings battle the San Jose Sharks tonight at Levi’s Stadium.
It’s the fourth of five meetings between the two clubs.
The Kings will look to stretch their win streak to a season-best seven games while the Sharks try to avoid a third loss in four outings.
The Sharks currently own the second wild card position in the Western Conference with 68 points, but the Kings are two points behind and have three games in hand.
San Jose has won two of the first three games.
Patrick Marleau has two goals and two assists during the season series while goaltender Antti Niemi is 2-1 with a .945 save percentage and 1.69 G.A.A. in three games against the Kings this season.
Anze Kopitar also has a goal and three assists in three games against the Sharks this season. Goaltender Jonathan Quick is 1-2 with a .890 save percentage and and 3.06 G.A.A. against San Jose this season.
L.A. has 16 players who have played in an outdoor game previously including 15 who were a part of last season’s Stadium Series game between the Kings and Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium.
The fifth and final meeting between the two clubs goes April 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
There have been no discussions for a new contract between Buffalo and pending UFA goalie Michal Neuvirth, player agent Patrick Stefan told PHT on Friday.
Neuvirth, 26, assumed the Sabres’ No. 1 gig following Jhonas Enroth’s trade to Dallas and has been the goalie of record ever since. Over that stretch, the Czech netminder — who’s in the last of a two-year, $5 million deal — has played very well, allowing just five goals on 103 shots (.951 save percentage) while earning high praise from onlookers:
Neuvirth’s numbers on the year remain unimpressive — 4-15-2, .310 GAA, .913 save percentage — though his playing opportunities were limited earlier in the year with Enroth in the fold.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Sabres GM Tim Murray opts to begin negotiations, as the current state of Buffalo’s goaltending behind Neuvirth and Anders Lindback (another pending UFA) is murky. Matt Hackett, 24, and Nathan Lieuwen, 23, could still turn into NHL-caliber netminders, but they’re not there yet; the club’s three most recent draftees (Linus Ullmark, Cal Petersen, Jonas Johansson) don’t project to be ready anytime soon.
As for heading to free agency… Neuvirth would be one of the youngest and most intriguing UFAs on the market, and could probably garner more interest than, say, Antti Niemi or Viktor Fasth. Problem is, this projects to be a buyer’s market for goalies and there aren’t many starting opportunities available.
Last year the Los Angeles Kings came back to eliminate the San Jose Sharks from the first round of the playoffs. Will this latest Kings surge cause the Sharks to start their offseason even earlier in 2015? That’s a real possibility, although the Sharks took the first step towards preventing that with their 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars tonight.
Even if we ignored the fact that the Kings won their last six games and claimed the second Wild Card spot from San Jose on Wednesday in the process, this would still be a critical win for the Sharks. The Dallas Stars are another threat in the battle for a postseason berth and San Jose has struggled lately with just two wins in its last nine contests coming into tonight’s game.
Under that backdrop, San Jose came out strong tonight. Marc-Edouard Vlasic established the Sharks’ lead just 3:24 minutes into the contest and from there they maintained their edge all game. Although the Dallas Stars did make things interesting when Erik Cole found the back of the net with 2:16 remaining in regulation time:
Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels each capitalized on the Stars’ empty net within 11 seconds of each other to squash Dallas’ hopes.
San Jose has regained possession of the second Wild Card spot with a two-point cushion, but the Sharks’ position is still far from ideal as they’ve played in three more games than Los Angeles.
They’ll have a chance to build upon that tenuous edge on Saturday though when the Sharks host Los Angeles in an outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium.
Back from the brink, Kings still ‘have a lot of work left to do’
A couple of Olympic gold-medal winners will be between the pipes tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens’ Carey Price will be staring down the Bell Centre ice at the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.
Both Canadian netminders are enjoying excellent seasons. Price is a serious Hart Trophy candidate, while Luongo has helped keep Florida in the playoff race with a .920 save percentage in 46 appearances.
With a win, the Panthers would move to within one point of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the East.
So let’s hear those “Go Habs Go” chants, Boston sports fans!
Jaroslav Halak will look to rebound from a shaky performance versus the Rangers when the Islanders host the Predators, who are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.
Cam Talbot for the Rangers versus Ryan Miller for the Canucks.
Curtis McElhinney for the Blue Jackets versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Ondrej Pavelec will see his first action in a week when the Jets visit Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.
Michal Neuvirth for the Sabres versus Ray Emery for the Flyers.
Antti Niemi for the Sharks versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for the Stars.
With just two wins in their last nine, the San Jose Sharks are shaking up their lines for tonight’s game in Dallas.
From CSN Bay Area:
Against the Stars, indications are Logan Couture will center Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels on the (top?) line, while Joe Thornton skates between Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson on another line. Tyler Kennedy will get bumped up to a third line role with center James Sheppard and Matt Nieto, while rookie Chris Tierney will be between Tomas Hertl and Andrew Desjardins on the fourth line.
Couture has spent most of the season skating with Marleau, while Thornton has most often been with Pavelski.
Of the four, it’s Marleau the Sharks could use more from. The 35-year-old has just 11 goals in 59 games. He finished last season with 33 goals.
Five-on-five, Marleau and Thornton haven’t skated regularly together since 2011-12.
Related: Sharks risking ‘national embarrassment’ in outdoor game: columnist