Kings-Sharks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 06, 2012
Ryan Clowe's moment of blatant cheating could be a reason the San Jose Sharks may have a chance at a fifth straight Pacific Division title. The Los Angeles Kings wouldn't mind getting a measure of revenge on Clowe while hoping they have a shot at just their second division crown in team history. The bitter rivals conclude the regular season in what could be a winner-takes-all scenario for the division championship Saturday night at HP Pavilion. The Sharks (42-29-10) are tied with the Kings (40-27-14) for second place in the Pacific, one point behind Phoenix heading into the final day of the season. All three teams have clinched playoff berths, with the third, seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference up for grabs. San Jose hosts Los Angeles just hours after the Coyotes drop the puck in Minnesota. A victory for Phoenix would secure its first division championship, while failing to win would give the Sharks and Kings a chance at the title. Clowe may have had a big say in the Kings' chances at the division crown during Thursday's 6-5 shootout win for San Jose in Los Angeles. With about 2 minutes left in the third period and the scored tied at 5-all, Clowe stood up from the bench and reached his stick onto the ice to poke the puck away from an onrushing Jarret Stoll. "I don't remember that play," Clowe said. None of the officials apparently saw the bizarre incident, but the Kings are still looking for a penalty. "I don't see why he shouldn't (get suspended)," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "To me, that's like a guy running down the football field and a guy comes out and tackles him to keep him from getting a touchdown. I don't see how this is any different. "Maybe the refs didn't see it, but I wouldn't blame them full-out. It's hard to see things like that, especially a stick reaching over the bench." Clowe had a goal and an assist Thursday, giving him four goals and two assists in the last six games. His score was the first of a see-saw five-goal third period before Joe Pavelski netted the only goal in the shootout. "That was a crazy game, man," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "Down 3-1, we battled back. They got another one. We took the lead. It was a pretty entertaining game for the fans, and it was a hard-fought win. We showed a lot of character." Joe Thornton has been a major cog in the Sharks' three-game winning streak, scoring twice and adding three assists. The All-Star center had a goal and an assist Thursday after failing to record a point in the previous three meetings with the Kings. San Jose is 22-8-2 in its last 32 home meetings with Los Angeles and has won the first two matchups there this season after dropping two of three during the opening round of last year's playoffs, which the Sharks won in six games. The Kings, who won the Smythe Division in 1990-91, have won four of six on the road and are 18-13-9 away from home. "Now, we're going to have to go in there and play a good road game like we've done all year," said Stoll, who ended a 33-game goal-scoring drought Thursday. "We've won in tough buildings, and it's no different here." Anze Kopitar has 12 goals and 22 assists in 38 meetings with the Sharks. He has three goals and seven assists during a six-game point streak in San Jose and has 11 points during a five-game overall streak after getting three assists Thursday.
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