NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 24th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (3-0) at Los Angeles Kings (0-3), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Jose Sharks will try to wrap up the Western Conference quarterfinals in a sweep, as they visit the Los Angeles Kings for Thursday's Game 4 battle at Staples Center.
After scoring 13 times in taking both Games 1 and 2 on home ice by lopsided margins, the Sharks were forced to work a bit harder Tuesday night in Los Angeles for a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. San Jose pulled out a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3 to push Los Angeles to the brink of elimination.
Patrick Marleau scored 6:20 into OT to hand the Sharks a commanding lead in this rematch of last spring's conference semifinals, which Los Angeles won in seven games. The home team won all seven meetings in the 2013 playoff matchup, and San Jose kept that trend going in Games 1 and 2 before picking up a road victory on Tuesday.
Including the playoffs, Los Angeles had won eight straight and 10 of its last 11 home games against the Sharks entering Game 3. The Kings hope to get back on track at home on Thursday, as they try to stay alive and force a Game 5 meeting Saturday in San Jose.
On the deciding goal, the puck was bouncing around in the Los Angeles end and Marleau wound up with it on his stick. Throwing a backhand on net from the left circle, it tipped off the stick of Slava Voynov and fooled Jonathan Quick to end the game.
It was the 60th career playoff goal for Marleau and his third marker of this series. The victory also extended San Jose's streak of winning playoff OT games to five.
Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Brent Burns all scored for the Sharks, who got 28 saves from Antti Niemi in the victory.
"I just told our guys to settle down, play the way we know how," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. "We got caught out in pieces a lot. Tired players did not manage the neutral zone real well. They had the bat in their hands and they were going to swing it and they had us on their heels but sometimes it goes that way, we will take that break."
Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll each lit the lamp for the Kings, who were outshot 40-31 in the loss. Quick turn aside 36 shots in defeat.
"Not quite enough tonight," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "I thought we played a pretty good hockey game. We were pretty good tonight and so were they."
In order to move on to the second round, the Kings now have to make NHL history. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers have won a best-of-seven series after dropping the first three games.
Of course, Kings forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were both members of the 2010 Flyers team that came back to beat Boston in the conference semifinals after losing the first three games. Carter, however, missed that historic series with a broken foot before returning later in the playoffs to help Philadelphia make a surprise run to the Cup Finals.
"Just play each game and don't worry about what's ahead of you," Richards said after Tuesday�s loss placed the Kings in a seemingly insurmountable hole. "We just have to have a mindset of winning the next game and going from there."
The Sharks recorded their first playoff sweep a little less than a year ago when they won four straight to eliminate Vancouver in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs.
L.A. hasn't been swept out of the postseason since dropping all four games against Detroit in the 2000 Western Conference quarterfinals.
04/24 11:02:18 ET