Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:

Game 36 vs. San Jose

December 19, 2013

7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)

For the third of five times this season, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks clash with each side at one win apiece.

The previous matchups have both gone beyond regulation with the Sharks winning 3-2 in the shootout back on November 27 in San Jose. The Kings, meanwhile, took the first meeting at Staples Center in a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win – and that is where this state rivalry returns on Thursday night.

Entering this contest, the 23-8-4 Kings hold a two-point lead on the 21-7-6 Sharks for second in the Pacific. The Sharks, however, are just 5-4-1 in their last 10 while boasting a fairly modest 10-6-3 mark away from the SAP Center thus far. San Jose’s 82.8% on the penalty is also inferior to Los Angeles’s 86.0 – but there’s no counting out the Sharks.

Patrick Marleau, who has always seemed to find success against the silver-and-black, is on fire with three goals and five assists in his last six games. As for the Kings, Jeff Carter has two goals and four assists in his last four outings.

As for goaltending, Martin Jones has been nothing short of spectacular – as has the defense in front of him.

As a result of Tuesday night’s win versus Edmonton, Martin Jones has become the first netminder in Kings history to start his career at 6-0-0 all the while posting three shutouts and averaging less than a goal against per game. But with the Sharks in town, Jones will be in for his biggest test of the season as he and the Kings hope to gain some ground on Anaheim, who currently hold a three-point lead for first place in the Pacific.

As for the defense, they have allowed more than two goals in a game just once in their last 20 games. Hopefully, the Kings’ back end will receive a boost as Willie Mitchell, who has missed the last couple of games with an illness, is questionable for Thursday’s tilt.

It’s yet another chapter in this heated rivalry and Thursday should provide no lack of excitement.

Enjoy the game!