San Jose Sharks Vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings Preview

The San Jose Sharks are trailing only slightly in the Pacific Division are playing through what is considered a particularly easy part of their schedule. They've got upcoming games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings. For more on the Sharks, check out Fear The Fin.

The San Jose Sharks have begun to get their season back in order, snapping a three-game losing streak on Thursday with a thrilling 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche, and a 3-2 win in their last outing over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Now winners of three-straight, they're looking to take back the lead in the Pacific Division. Currently at No. 2 in the division, San Jose is two points behind the Dallas Stars (who will cease to be rivals once realignment occurs) with two fewer games played.

Two points separate Dallas and San Jose, and then San Jose and the Phoenix Coyotes in third. The Kings trail the Coyotes by just one point as well, so things are extremely close in the division, which has switched leads multiple times this season. The Sharks have won back-to-back games for the first time since Thanksgiving weekend. With the division being so competitive, it's probably a good sign that the Sharks are playing through a relatively easy homestand, with the first five of six games being against teams currently out of a playoff spot.

Before the week is over, the Sharks will take on both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings.

On Wednesday, the Sharks will host the Lightning, who are playing well after struggling for a long period of time, much like the Sharks. Tampa Bay has a longer uphill battle though, and that might actually work in their favor. As one of the more disappointing teams in the league this season (in regards to preseason expectations), the Lightning could be underestimated coming into the HP Pavilion. They'll look to keep Steven Stamkos at the top of the NHL in goals scored, currently leading with 20, and they'll try and settle what is shaping up to be a goalie controversy as Mathieu Garon is expected to make his sixth-straight start of the season, playing well in most of them thus far.

Antti Niemi is 8-2-0 with a 2.10 goals-against average over his last 10 home games, and will do his best to outplay Garon on Wednesday. On Friday, the Sharks will play host to the Kings, who also have aspirations for the Pacific Division crown this season, but they haven't been the model of consistency, either. They haven't won straight games in some time, but will take on the lowly Anaheim Ducks on Thursday before heading to the HP Pavilion to take on the Sharks.

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