In the Crease: Sharks look to take commanding series lead

In the Crease: Sharks look to take commanding series lead
April 20, 2014, 9:45 am
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In Game 1, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (left) played well against the Kings' top line which featured Marian Gaborik. (USATSI)

Programming note: Coverage of Game 2 between the Sharks and Kings begins Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)

Series schedule

Game 1 – April 17, Sharks 6, Kings 3
Game 2 – Tonight, Kings @ Sharks, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3 – April 22, Sharks @ Kings, 7:00 p.m.
Game 4 – April 24, Sharks @ Kings, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5* – April 26, Kings @ Sharks, TBD
Game 6* – April 28, Sharks @ Kings, TBD
Game 7* – April 30, Kings @ Sharks, TBD

* - if necessary

The latest

San Jose jumped out to a 5-0 second period lead on the Kings, and went on to a 6-3 win in Game 1 on Thursday night. Six different Sharks scored goals, and 12 players registered at least one point. After getting dominated for two frames, the Kings responded with a strong third period and scored three goals, but it was much too late. Antti Niemi recorded the win with 31 saves, while counterpart Jonathan Quick was pulled after allowing five goals on 28 shots. The teams combined for 121 hits.

The Sharks are 6-1 when leading a playoff series two-games-to-none, and 8-5 when a series is tied at one game apiece. San Jose is 12-18 all-time in the second game of a playoff series, but 7-7 at home.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The defenseman had one goal and one assist and a +1 rating in the Sharks’ Game 1 win, and was matched up with Anze Kopitar’s line with Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams much of the night. Vlasic recently said he’s a more confident player after his Olympic experience, and he’ll almost certainly see as much time as possible against the Kings’ top line again.

[RELATED: Sharks d-man Vlasic's confidence grows after Olympics]

Kings: Mike Richards. The former Flyers captain was virtually invisible in Game 1, not generating a single shot attempt, and he’s at the top of the list of Kings players that are going to have to be better. Richards had a down regular season, skating as the fourth line center late in the year, and is apparently still trying to get his game together in the postseason.

Vitals (regular season)

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.92 (T – 6th)
Goals-against per game: 2.35 (5th)
Power play: 17.2 percent (20th)
Penalty kill: 84.9 percent (6th)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.42 (26th)
Goals-against per game: 2.05 (1st)
Power play: 15.1 percent (27th)
Penalty kill: 83.1 percent (11th)

Probable lines

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

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

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

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.

Kings: None

Season/All-Time series

Home teams are 21-1-1 in the last 23 games between the two teams, including playoffs.

The Sharks were 2-2-1 against the Kings in the regular season, while Los Angeles was 3-1-1 in the season series.

Quoteable

“We’d like to get the same kind of start, that’s for sure. When you can jump on a team and put them in a hole in the first period on the road, it’s very tough to dig yourself out of. We’d like to do that, and stay physical as well.” – Tommy Wingels

Burning question

Who was the Sharks’ best player in Game 1, and who do you expect to step up in Game 2? Leave your answer in the comments section below.