Sharks won't get preferred matchups in Game 3

Sharks won't get preferred matchups in Game 3
April 22, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Our four lines have proven to be productive to this point. They’ve all played their roles well. They need to continue to do that, regardless of who they’re on the ice against.
Todd McLellan

Sharks vs. Kings

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Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 between the Sharks and Kings begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)

LOS ANGELES – Perhaps the most telling stat from the pair of dominant wins the Sharks have earned over Los Angeles is that each of the 12 forwards on the roster has at least two points.

“I think our depth, certainly last game with our fourth line coming through, has been the key so far,” said Dan Boyle, referencing the goals from Mike Brown and Raffi Torres that jumpstarted the team to a 7-2 win in Game 2 on Sunday.

Logan Couture said: “When you’re in the playoffs, you need different lines on different nights if you’re going to be successful. It’s only been two games, but we’ve had that so far.”

The comeback from a 2-0 hole in that game essentially started when head coach Todd McLellan shifted Joe Pavelski from the top line back to a third line center role. At Tuesday’s morning skate at Staples Center, Pavelski was back on the Thornton line.

Whether the line rushes were an accurate depiction of what the Sharks will roll when Game 3 begins is anyone’s guess, although McLellan indicated that he would start the game with Pavelski back on Joe Thornton’s wing, where he scored most of his team-leading 41 goals in the regular season.

“He’s there now, so we’ll use him there,” McLellan said.

The Kings will get the last line change at home, so McLellan won’t have the luxury, for example, of sending out Pavelski to take a key defensive zone draw against, say, Jarret Stoll. James Sheppard has won just two of 13 faceoffs against Stoll, the Kings' third line center, through the first two games.

[RELATED: Kings' lines unclear for Game 3 vs. Sharks]

“We have our four lines, and we’ll play them,” McLellan said. “They get an opportunity to play their guys any way they want to play them. Our four lines have proven to be productive to this point. They’ve all played their roles well. They need to continue to do that, regardless of who they’re on the ice against.

“If the game evolves, if there’s a swing in momentum or something like that, we’ll react. But, we have to give our group, the group that’s gotten it done to this point, the opportunity to be successful again.”

Despite outscoring Los Angeles 13-5 through the first two games, the Sharks know they’ll have to capture one of the two games at Staples Center in order to avoid a prolonged series.

[In the Crease: Sharks' series with Kings shifts to LA]

Recent trends aren’t in their favor, as the Kings are 10-0-1 against the Sharks in the last 11 games in Southern California. Furthermore, Western Conference teams are a perfect 11-0 at home in the 2014 playoffs. The Ducks, Avalanche and Blues, all winners in their first two games on home ice, lost on Monday night.

Tommy Wingels is well aware of the Sharks’ struggles here, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, where his team lost all four games in a seven-game second round playoff defeat in 2013.

"We did our job at home, but if we don’t do the job here, what we did at home doesn’t really matter. It just narrows it down to a three-game series," Wingels said. "We know we’ve got our work cut out for us here. They’ve got added energy being in their building and a little comfort being at home, so we’ve got to bring our A-game tonight.”

Last season, the Kings erased a 2-0 series hole to St. Louis, winning four straight to advance to the second round.

McLellan said: “We’ve referenced the St. Louis series last year, we can reference our own series with them last year. We went home 0-2 and we came back to this building tied.

“It’s hard to win on the road, especially this time of year. We’re aware of that fact, we know they play well here, but it’s our job to do everything we can to change that.”