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Kings/Sharks: D-Day [Game #79 Preview]

Kings Roster Notes: (IN) Jonathan Quick (2.18 GAA, .920 SV%). (OUT) Peter Harrold, Davis Drewiske, Scott Parse (hip), Justin Williams (shoulder), Anze Kopitar (ankle).

Sharks Roster Notes: (IN) Antti Niemi (2.40 GAA, .919 SV%). (OUT) Scott Nichol (upper body), Kent Huskins (lower body), Justin Braun.  For more info, see Fear the Fin.

Pacific clash!  Thunder!  Lightning!  A 4 point game (unless it's a 3 again)!  Tonight, the Sharks will either clinch the Pacific or the Kings will clinch a spot in the playoffs.  Hoo boy.

The Kings' new lines stay intact.  The Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds combo is being called the first line, but they did not play top-line minutes against the Stars; Dustin Brown (20:36), Ryan Smyth (19:10), and Michal Handzus (18:39) led all forwards, followed closely by Stoll, Penner, and Moller.  It was an unusual game in that it featured no time on special teams, but the 1-2 lines are clear.  Meanwhile, Trevor Lewis is back toiling on the 4th, wondering what he did besides racking up assists.

The Sharks' game relies on piling up shots and goals; the Kings' defense-oriented game doesn't usually manage much of either.  However, they did manage to outshoot San Jose 38-28 and pot two power play goals last time out, even if they only managed a win via shootout.  They'll have to strive for a better outcome tonight: as Quisp reminds us daily, regulation wins should be crucial.

Hot lately: Dustin Brown has 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games. Trevor Lewis has 5 points in his last 4.  Joe Pavelski, one of the best 'third line' centers in the league, has 17 points in his last 9 games; Patrick Marleau has 4 goals in his last 2. 

The Kings lead the season series 3-1-1.  98 points would let them keep their hold on 4th, and give them that much more security heading into the final stretch.