Kings (41-26-6, 88 points) vs. San Jose Sharks (43-23-8, 94) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Injury update– The Kings had escaped any serious injuries to their core group until midway through the third period Monday against the visiting Calgary Flames. That’s when second-leading Justin Williams was driven into the boards by Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr, resulting in a dislocated right shoulder. In the best-case scenario, Williams will miss the regular season but could possibly be available at less than 100% by late in the first round, if the Kings get that far.
2. Moller gets the call (up) – Filling the top-line right wing spot left vacated by Williams is 22-year-old Oscar Moller, who can match some of Williams' offensive skill but is woefully less experienced in a playoff-type atmosphere. Williams was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes team that won the 2006 Stanley Cup title. Moller has played in 78 career games but none in the postseason.
3. Clifford back for more – Kings rookie forward Kyle Clifford, who was knocked down by a stiff right hand from Ryan Reaves of St. Louis last week, is set to return after suffering nothing more than a black eye. Clifford has been one of the big surprises this season, and his grind-it-out style will come in handy against the Sharks, who know a thing or two about physical play.
4. Shark attack – San Jose leads the Pacific Division after catching fire in mid-January. The Sharks defeated Calgary, 6-3, on Wednesday to improve to 22-4-3 in their last 29 games. They have been scoring goals at will, pouring in 20 in their last four games, all victories against Western Conference opponents. The Kings are six points back of San Jose in the Pacific with nine games remaining, so a regulation loss tonight is sure to eliminate them from contention.
5. Leading the frenzy – Patrick Marleau is among a group of San Jose players clicking on all cylinders. Marleau has seven goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, while Joe Pavelski has three goals and 10 assists in his last five. Marleau scored twice against Calgary for his fifth 30-goal season. The Sharks are also getting contributions from role players such as Torrey Mitchell, who recorded his first career two-goal game against the Flames, and Andrew Desjardins notched his first career goal.