Kings-Sharks Preview

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

Los Angeles.

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

California.

”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

Thursday.

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

with defensively.

”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

way.”

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.