LOS ANGELES – The Sharks are quite a different team than they were even three weeks ago, when they met the Kings on April 3.
Not only have they integrated Tomas Hertl and Raffi Torres back into the lineup but in Game 2 on Sunday, Joe Pavelski was moved back to the third line center, creating matchup problems for the Kings that they weren’t able to solve in a 7-2 decision. Pavelski finished the night with one goal and two assists.
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter indicated he knew that San Jose would be getting players back by the time the playoffs rolled around, but said on Tuesday morning: “For me, the biggest thing was whether Little Joe (Pavelski) and Big Joe (Thornton) would play together.”
Now that they aren’t, it’s up to Sutter, who admitted his team didn’t have an answer for the Sharks’ bottom two lines on Sunday, to find the right combinations to combat the Sharks’ formidable attack.
“There’s a whole lot of ammo over there,” Sutter said. “If they move it around, it puts a little bit more pressure on other guys.”
[IN THE CREASE: Sharks' series with Kings shifts to LA]
The Kings’ lines for Tuesday night’s Game 3 are unclear, even after the morning skate, although forward Colin Fraser has been recalled from AHL Manchester. Regardless of lines, though, Los Angeles knows it has to quickly clean up its game or the series could be over shortly.
“We have to just put the first two games behind us, obviously learn what we did wrong, but that’s not the way the L.A. Kings play,” Drew Doughty said. “I think everyone in the whole world knows that’s not how the L.A. Kings play. It’s just about time we need our leaders to step up, we need to lead the way, and we need everyone to follow. We need to come together as the team we know we can be. We need to win these next two games.’’
Jarret Stoll said: “We all know we're going to bring our A-game. I look at the guy beside me, and he looks at the guy beside him. We know what to expect from guys. We just haven't brought it to this point. We're a very, very close group in there. We've been through a lot together. A couple of tough losses, for sure. Gotta move on, gotta move past it. It takes four. It doesn't take two."