In the Crease: Sharks go for sweep of Kings

In the Crease: Sharks go for sweep of Kings
April 24, 2014, 8:30 am
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Justin Braun leads the NHL with a +6 rating, and leads the Sharks in shorthanded ice time for the series. (USATSI)

Programming note: Coverage of Game 4 between the Sharks and Kings begins Thursday at 7:00 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)

Series schedule

The Sharks lead the best-of-seven series, three games to none

Game 1 – April 17, Sharks 6, Kings 3
Game 2 – April 20, Sharks 7, Kings 2
Game 3 – April 22, Sharks 4, Kings 3 (OT)

Game 4 – April 24, Sharks @ Kings, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5* – April 26, Kings @ Sharks, 7:00 p.m.
Game 6* – April 28, Sharks @ Kings, TBD
Game 7* – April 30, Kings @ Sharks, TBD

* - if necessary

[RELATED: Ahead 3-0, Sharks refer back to previous playoff runs]

The latest

Patrick Marleau’s fourth career playoff overtime goal on Tuesday at Staples Center gave the Sharks a 4-3 win, and a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Kings. Brent Burns (power play), Matt Nieto and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots, including all five he saw in overtime. Niemi improved to 9-1 in playoff overtime games in his Sharks career.

Sharks’ playoff series record when…

The Sharks are 4-0 when leading a playoff series three games to none, including last season’s sweep of Vancouver in the first round.

The Sharks are 9-0 when leading a series three games to one.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Justin Braun. The 27-year-old defenseman missed a few shifts in Game 3 after blocking a shot, but said he’s good to go in Game 4. Braun leads the NHL with a +6 rating, and his goal in Game 2 ended up as the game-winner. He leads the Sharks in shorthanded ice time for the series, too.

Kings: Jake Muzzin. The 25-year-old defenseman is the only plus player for the Kings with a +2 rating, and has goals in two of the three games in the series. Paired primarily with Drew Doughty, Muzzin had a breakthrough year in 2013-14 and is one of the few Kings having a good playoff.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 5.67 (1st)
Goals-against per game: 2.67 (7th)
Power play: 23.1 percent (5th)
Penalty kill: 75.0 percent (14th)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.67 (10th)
Goals-against per game: 5.67 (16th)
Power play: 25.0 percent (3rd)
Penalty kill: 76.9 percent (12th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
James Sheppard – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
Raffi Torres – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

[RELATED: Sutter: Kings 'won't go quietly' against Sharks]

Kings
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell – Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Adam Burish (left hand) is out. Justin Braun (lower body) is probable.

Kings: None.

Quoteable

“It’s a big challenge to close teams out. We were able to do it last year. We played a really good game that Game 4. We’re going to have to match that or be better tomorrow to close this one out.” – Justin Braun

Burning question

Assuming the Sharks advance, which would you rather face in the second round – Anaheim or Dallas? Leave your answer in the comments section below.