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24-8-4

Sharks-Kings Preview

AP - Sports

It's clear how important home-ice advantage is when the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks meet.

There hasn't been a regulation win by the visiting team in the last 15 regular-season matchups, and the Sharks will try to change that Thursday night.

San Jose (21-7-6) posted the only victory by the visitors in that 15-game span with a 6-5 shootout win April 5, 2012. The Sharks are 1-4-3 at Staples Center since a 1-0 victory on New Year's Day in 2011.

The home team has captured the last 14 overall meetings, including all seven games in last season's Western Conference semifinal series won by the Kings.

Los Angeles (23-8-4) will be happy to be home, where it has posted consecutive shutouts by rookie Martin Jones. The Kings will also be pleased they won't be tasked with ending a nine-game slide in San Jose, including playoffs.

Both 2013-14 meetings went past regulation. Anze Kopitar scored in overtime of the Kings' 4-3 win Oct. 30 before the Sharks survived eight rounds of a shootout for a 3-2 victory Nov. 27.

San Jose will see its third Los Angeles goalie if Jones gets his introduction to this heated Pacific Division rivalry.

Jones improved to 6-0-0 with a 0.82 goals-against average Tuesday, making 24 saves for his third shutout in five games in a 3-0 win over Edmonton. He's starting since Jonathan Quick is out with a groin injury.

''I want to make sure I'm focused and prepared for the games, but also have some fun as well,'' Jones said. ''My job is to work hard in practice and be ready to play when called upon.''

Quick and Ben Scrivens have faced the Sharks this season.

The Kings got goals from Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Dustin Brown to begin this four-game homestand that leads into a four-day break for the holidays.

"San Jose, we're very familiar with, they play a hard game," King said. "I think it's nice obviously, right before the break, we've got a lot of hockey so it's going to be nice to get these games in and keep ourselves sharp."

Although the Sharks have had trouble in Los Angeles, they could be confident after posting their second victory in another city that is tough on visitors with Tuesday's 4-2 win at St. Louis.

Joe Pavelski and Matt Irwin had first-period goals and Brent Burns made it 3-0 in the second before San Jose held off a charge by the Blues thanks to Martin Havlat's score with 8:19 left. The Sharks ended a four-game road slide.

''A win is a win and we're going to take that,'' coach Todd McLellan said. ''I haven't seen anybody play a perfect game this year. We let the momentum get away on us. But in the third period, I thought we went out there and re-established it.''

Antti Niemi made 20 saves and will likely make his third start against the Kings this season. Niemi is 1-8-1 in his last 10 starts at Staples Center, including the postseason.

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