Programming note: Coverage of Game 4 between the Sharks and Kings begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – The big boys led the way in the Sharks’ 4-3 overtime win against the Kings on Tuesday, and Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter admitted as much in his pregame media availability on Thursday morning.
“We’ve had trouble with the size of [Brent] Burns and [Joe] Thornton, quite honestly,” Sutter said.
Burns was particularly forceful on Tuesday, scoring a power play goal and firing seven shots on goal, to go with eight hits and a first period roughing minor. Thornton had one assist, and was credited with a team-high four takeaways while winning 14 of 23 faceoffs.
[RELATED: In the Crease: Sharks go for sweep of Kings]
Todd McLellan will be looking for a repeat performance.
“Those are two guys that have to lead us now,” said the Sharks’ coach. “They really have to step up and make sure our team is ready to play. We’re counting on them, and I think they’ll get the job done.”
Chances are good that Thornton, Burns and rookie Tomas Hertl will go up against the Anze Kopitar line again in Game 4, but the Kings are apparently going to present a different look. Captain Dustin Brown, whose had very little impact on the series so far, replaced Justin Williams on the wing with Kopitar and Marian Gaborik at the morning skate at Staples Center.
“Hopefully, he gives a little size and power to that line,” Sutter said.
“He’s going to finish his hits,” Thornton said of Brown. “He’s an energy type player, and a good player. We’ll see how the game unfolds.”
Two players on the Kings’ roster, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, were a part of the most recent team to erase a 3-0 hole when Philadelphia defeated Boston in 2010. The Kings have not been down three games in a series since 2000, but according to Drew Doughty, no one in their dressing room is giving up just yet.
The club still has 16 players on its roster that were a part of the 2012 Stanley Cup team.
“Right now, playing our rival in the San Jose Sharks and being down 3-0, now it’s our turn to sweep them,” Doughty said. “We need to win four in a row, that’s the bottom line. … We have full confidence we can do it. No one in here is going to tell us that we can’t. We all believe in each other, and believe in ourselves as a team.”
Brown said: “The possibility of being swept, that’s definitely at the forefront of your mind, being a competitive athlete and not wanting that to happen. You can’t over-exaggerate the situation. At the end of the day, it’s a one-game process for us.”
McLellan was asked how he will guard against his team easing up on the gas pedal.
“We’ve got one game to win one. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Our desperation level has to match or exceed what we’re going to get from Los Angeles. If we think we’re playing with mulligans, we’re in trouble.”