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Kings try to stay alive in San Jose
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings finally broke through with a win in the Western Conference quarterfinals the last time out. The Kings hope to stave off elimination again when they visit the San Jose Sharks for Saturday's Game 5 at SAP Center.
The Kings dropped the first three games of this best-of-seven series to get pushed to the brink of elimination, but Los Angeles survived one do-or-die game with Thursday's 6-3 home victory against the Sharks.
Of course, L.A. needs to make NHL history in order to make it out of the first round. 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.
The Kings, however, have not had success in San Jose in recent years and those struggles extend into the postseason.
Los Angeles outlasted the Sharks in seven games during last spring's meeting in the conference semifinals, but it lost all three outings in San Jose. The Sharks, who hold the home-ice advantage in this set, have beaten the Kings in 12 of the past 13 meetings as the host, including Games 1 and 2 of this set.
San Jose is 6-2 all-time against the Kings in home playoff games.
"Going into their building, every home team thrives off of their crowd and their home building this time of year," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "So we need to be prepared to do the little things and the right things, especially early, and again, chip away. You can't look too far ahead, especially against a team like this."
Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams each scored twice to help the Kings post Thursday's win and make their first step towards a monumental comeback. Jonathan Quick stopped 36 shots to help L.A. avoid the sweep.
The game was tied 2-2 in the second before Williams and Tyler Toffoli tallied 2:54 apart late in the frame to send the Kings into the third with a 4-2 lead.
Gaborik scored his second of the night 34 seconds into the third, and Quick, despite giving up a power-play goal to Joe Pavelski at 11:36, made enough saves down the stretch to extend Los Angeles' season.
Brown added an empty-netter with 1:28 remaining to account for the final margin.
"We're certainly happy we got the win but we feel we have a long road to go obviously," Williams said. "You're happy to play in the playoffs but you want to excel in the playoffs and we haven't been able to do that so far in this series. We're trying to push it game by game and win one more next game."
Los Angeles does have a few players on its roster that were part of a 3-0 playoff comeback. Kings forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were both members of the 2010 Flyers team that stormed 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.
James Sheppard and Matt Nieto each scored once for the Sharks. Antti Niemi allowed five goals on 26 shots before being pulled early in the third in favor of Alex Stalock, who made four saves in relief.
"We didn't execute anywhere near the way they did," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said. "When we go back to the goals it's quite easy to pinpoint some of the mistakes that we made and for us to have success moving forward, that has to get cleaned up quickly."
A win tonight will get San Jose into the second round for the fourth time in five seasons. The Kings were last eliminated in the opening round in 2011, when San Jose beat them in six games.
If L.A. wins Saturday's Game 5 then the series will continue Monday in Los Angeles.
04/26 11:09:10 ET