Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 between the Sharks and Kings begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – They had played together just once in the regular season, on Feb. 27 in the first game after the Olympic break in Philadelphia.
Still, Andrew Desjardins, Mike Brown and Raffi Torres are having a huge impact on the Sharks’ first round series with the Kings. As much as any other line that San Jose has put together, in fact.
On Sunday, goals from Brown and Torres, both set up by Andrew Desjardins, turned a 2-0 hole into a 2-2 second period tie. The Sharks took over the game from there, destroying the Kings in Game 2, 7-2.
Todd McLellan was asked why he thought that trio of agitating forwards would be good together once the playoffs began, as Torres missed the final 17 games of the regular season from an ongoing recovery from ACL surgery.
“They compliment each other,” McLellan said. “They are fast – a lot of players that play in that role are bigger and maybe can’t move as quick or fast – and they hunt pucks a lot. They want to play with each other, which is a great thing. They have a sense, I believe, everybody around them believes in them. They feel good about going on the ice, and we feel good about having them out there.”
Contributing on the scoresheet is a welcome development. Torres now has two goals in as many playoff games, also getting one in Game 1.
“It’s huge,” Torres said. “You just look at all the teams that go deep and win games in the playoffs, everybody is contributing. Tonight it was our line to get it going, and the big guys took over.”
Brown said: "I say any time the fourth line contributes with goals it's always a bonus. For us to put in a few here, it's great for the team, it's great for the guys to kind of know they have that depth on the fourth line and that we can contribute."
They’re also seemingly getting underneath the skin of the Kings. Torres goaded Matt Greene into an extra minor in the third period, giving San Jose a power play, and in the first period he ran Alec Martinez with two huge hits on the same shift.
For the second straight game, Brown shoved a Kings player into Jonathan Quick, this time sending Tyler Toffoli flying into the crease in the first period.
“That's the way I have to play. I didn't think he was next to the goalie,” Brown said of the play. “I think Quick just fell back. Nothing intentional. I obviously want to get in and kind of rattle him, but it was nothing intentional. Just playing the hockey game."
Brown echoed his coach saying that he, Torres and Desjardins are similar players, and that’s allowed them to have success. He’s particularly enjoying being on the ice with Torres, who only played in five regular season games.
"He's a great player. I love playing with him,” Brown said. “His style of play is what we need on the fourth line. All three of us play that same route. It's good to know we're all on the same page and we know what each of us is going to do. Especially him, he's running around, and you know he's out there."
The fans know, too, and at one point chants of “Raffi” rained down from the rafters.
“It’s nice. I don’t know what to say. It’s kind of weird,” Torres said of the recognition.
In a series in which depth at forward was sure to play a role, the Sharks’ fourth line is giving the Kings fits.
“The catalyst was [the Desjardins] line,” McLellan said. “They got us going and everybody followed. You need that to have success.”