From an epic comeback to a pair of six-goal outbursts to the two
big road wins that gave the San Jose Sharks control of their
first-round series, it was all in all a pretty successful trip to
The task for the Sharks now is closing out the Kings at home in
Game 5 on Saturday night and avoiding another trip to Southern
”When you have the opportunity to win that fourth game you have
to take advantage of it,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. ”We’re at
home, we don’t want to have to get back on a plane and go back
there and fight for another 60-plus minutes. You want to take care
of business when you can, get the extra rest. When you can put a
team away, put them away.”
Most of the Sharks took the day off Friday to get some rest a
day after taking a 3-1 series lead with a 6-3 victory at Staples
Center. It marked the second straight six-goal game on the road
against a team known for its tight defense and moved the Sharks to
the brink of the second round.
San Jose had scored that many goals in a playoff game just five
times in 142 postseason contests before doing it twice in a row.
Despite the outburst, Kings coach Terry Murray is sticking with
goaltender Jonathan Quick for Game 5.
”They have three lines that are as good as any three lines in
the NHL,” Murray said. ”If we’re going to have success against
them, and whenever we do have success against them, we’re playing a
solid game, everyone is on the same page doing the right things
with the puck and we have good defensive posture.”
The contributions have come up and down the roster as 12 players
have recorded points in each of the past two games. The top line
delivered the game-winning goal in overtime on Tuesday when Patrick
Marleau set up Devin Setoguchi to cap just the fourth comeback ever
from a four-goal deficit in a playoff game. The line also got the
key goal early in the third period Thursday from Joe Thornton that
made it 4-2.
Ryane Clowe has back-to-back two-goal games from the second
line, where Logan Couture also scored a key goal to fuel the
comeback in Game 3. Joe Pavelski got the tying goal in Game 3 and
joined linemate Torrey Mitchell with a goal in the third period
The defense has even chipped in with one goal and 11 assists the
past two games, making the Sharks a very difficult team to match up
”We’ve got three pretty sick scoring lines,” forward Scott
Nichol said. ”We’ve got a threat when those guys get out there.
It’s hard to check. If you have a checking line, who do you check?
You’ve got to leave one of those three lines exposed. And that’s
what you want in the playoffs. You don’t want just one line going
or one player. We’ve got a whole unit together, pulling the same
Nichol, the fourth line center, is one of the few players who
didn’t record a point the past two games but found his own way to
make a mark. He enticed Kings star defenseman Drew Doughty into a
matching roughing penalty in the second period Thursday that led to
a pair of four-on-four goals that opened the scoring.
Nichol also drew a double minor on a high stick by Matt Greene
that led to a third goal, leading Murray to call him the reason the
Sharks won the game.
”He’s definitely not fun to play against but he’s certainly fun
to play for and with and watch,” Boyle said. ”The guy just never
quits. He’s the energizer bunny out there. He was obviously a big
part of the win yesterday. I don’t believe he was on the score
sheet, but he was a big reason why we won and he’s just one of
those guys you love to have on your team.”
The Kings will try to regain the form that led them to a 4-0 win
in San Jose in Game 2 and the 4-0 lead the following game,
eliminating the giveaways and other mistakes that have helped fuel
the Sharks’ offense.
Despite being outscored 12-4 since taking that big lead, the
Kings still have their confidence.
”We saw the things we can do to them, we have moments of
domination,” Doughty said. ”We just need to clean up our D zone.
If we clean that up, really focus hard on that, and just keep
getting the goals we’re getting, we should be fine.”
While the Kings are trying to keep their confidence up, the
message from the Sharks coaching staff was to avoid getting
complacent. Coach Todd McLellan said his team struggles when the
players start feeling comfortable and stop doing some of the little
things such as blocking shots, managing shift length and getting
the puck in deep that have made them successful.
”If we let up or take our foot off the gas pedal for any little
bit it’s going to cost us,” McLellan said. ”I’d like to think
we’re growing up as a team and are able to put some of those lapses
behind us. Tomorrow will be a reflection on whether we’ve learned a
lesson or whether we’ll be taught a lesson.”
AP freelance Jonathan Raber in El Segundo, Calif., contributed
to this report.