SAN JOSE – Just two days after playing one of the wildest and strangest games of the season in Los Angeles, the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will meet again Saturday night, this time at HP Pavilion.
The contest Thursday night had three fights, a combined 63 penalty minutes and seven power-play goals – four by the Kings and three by the Sharks – as well as a strange-but-true moment in the third period when Sharks forward Ryane Clowe reached over the bench with his stick and knocked the puck away from Kings center Jarret Stoll.
San Jose prevailed 6-5 in a shootout, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed that the last thing they need in their final playoff tuneup is an instant replay.
“We can’t have an undisciplined game like that again from now until the end of the season or it will cost us immensely,” McLellan said. “To give up four power-play goals and win a game, I don’t know how that happens in today’s game, but it did. We can look at the penalty kill. There are some areas, again, that we can be better at, but quite frankly to me it’s the march to the box that was disappointing.
“And from what I understand, Darryl was saying the same thing. It’s two coaches trying to get their teams to play with some focus and some discipline, not cross the line on so many occasions, and get ready to play in the playoffs.”
Phoenix can clinch the Pacific Division title with a win at Minnesota in a game that starts at 5 p.m. PT, but if the Coyotes lose, then the Sharks and Kings will be battling for the division crown and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
Sutter said that no matter what’s on the line as far as playoff positioning, he’s more concerned about getting his team prepared for the postseason and playing the right way.
“Quite honestly I want us to do some things better that prepare us for the first game of the playoffs, that we didn’t do as well as we should have last game,” Sutter said.
Stoll said he expects to “a little bit better discipline” from both teams.
“Way too many penalties -- this late in the year you want to be playing hard, heavy hockey, but you want to be disciplined,” Stoll said. “We know if we play our style of game, our way, we’ll be fine. We started off that way in L.A. the last game. Penalties got in the way and some loose play got in the way. A little bit of a track meet started. We know how we need to play. It’s strong defensively. It’s smothering them, being all over them, being hard and heavy on the forecheck and staying out of the box.”
Clowe was not penalized for his pokecheck from the bench, and the NHL did not issue any supplementary discipline. Stoll said the Kings aren’t thinking about on-ice paybacks.
“We move on past that game, past that day and refocus for this one,” Stoll said. “It’s over with now, and we’re moving on.”
Clowe said he doubts that the Kings will target him on the ice.
“If I get targeted, I’m more than willing,” Clowe said. “I’m ready.”
The Sharks will be without third-line wing Torrey Mitchell, who suffered an undisclosed injury Thursday night on a first-period hit by Kings forward Colin Fraser.
Michal Handzus, who played the previous four seasons with Los Angeles, will return to the lineup after missing five games. Handzus is expected to center the third line, with Dominic Moore moving from center to wing.
“We liked the way our four lines were playing, the energy that we got from them. That kept Michal out of the lineup,” McLellan said. “It also gave him some time to heal. Now, him drawing an assignment … tonight gives us a big body, it gives us a faceoff guy, which we were poor in in L.A. for most of the game. It gives us a guy that can play on the penalty kill and the power play, and it also gives him an opportunity to get his game together, at least once, before the playoffs start.”
This game gives Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has 10 shutouts and a 1.93 goals against average, a chance to regroup for the playoffs after one of his worst games of the season.
“It’s a big challenge when you play San Jose. San Jose has a goaltender (Antti Niemi) that’s won a Stanley Cup and quietly goes about his business and doesn’t get much credit, just criticism,” Sutter said. “And we have one that gets a lot of credit.”
Sutter was asked if Quick gets too much credit.
"I’m not getting into that, because you know what happens when you answer those questions. You have to prove it, right?” Sutter said. “That’s’ what it’s about.”
Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion:
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe – Logan Couture – Martin Havlat
TJ Galiardi – Michal Handzus – Dominic Moore
Daniel Winnik – Andrew Desjardins – Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Dan Boyle
Colin White – Brent Burns
Jason Demers – Justin Braun
Brad Richardson – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Justin Williams
Dustin Penner – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan – Colin Fraser – Kyle Clifford
Rob Scuderi – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene