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Sharks v Kings - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Lombardi looks at what Kings must fix in offseason

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The defensive-oriented system that Dean Lombardi brought to the Los Angeles Kings was supposed to pay dividends beyond the first round of the playoffs this season.
This was supposed to be the season that a team stocked with young talent and some playoff tested veterans broke through with a postseason series win or two.

But the general manager's master plan suffered a setback when the Kings failed to take care of the puck and couldn't curb San Jose's skilled forwards during a six-game loss in their Western Conference quarterfinal-round series, an inexplicable turn L.A. has all summer to mull over.

"We were very uncharacteristic of what is supposed to be a staple of our game," Lombardi said in a season-ending media session Wednesday.

Sharks get some rest after closing out Kings

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Now that one hard-fought series has ended on a successful note for the San Jose Sharks, they have a couple of days to rest and gear up for a second round they anticipate will be at least as difficult.

The Sharks needed six games to dispatch the Los Angeles Kings and advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the second year in a row. Three of the wins required overtime.
"It was a hard series," Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi said. "We knew what it was going to be like. They're a hard-working team that plays defensive hockey and pounces on turnovers. We have that core group that's been here before and it definitely showed and helped to push us through this."

The Sharks won all three games at the Staples Center, clinching the series with Monday's 4-3 overtime victory after they squandered three one-goal leads.

Brown: Mental mistakes cost Kings

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

LOS ANGELESDustin Brown was initially at a loss for words as he took off his skates for the last time this season.

If the Los Angeles Kings captain is indeed the face of his team, he wore a mask of resignation tinged with confusion Monday night after his team's season ended at the exact same time and place as last year -- at home after a Game 6 loss in the first round of the playoffs.

"Right now it's just disappointing," Brown said. "It's hard to reflect as a whole. It's nothing but disappointment right now. It's just hard to kind of reflect on what happened in this series or how the year went."

But then Brown broke down why his team could not show growth from last season after a six-game series loss to San Jose, punctuated by a 4-3 overtime loss at Staples Center.

Kings hoping for 'road-ice advantage' at home

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was suggested to some of the Los Angeles Kings that they wear their road white jerseys for Game 6, even though it's at Staples Center.

Or perhaps they should stay at a hotel to recreate the road experience?

"I think last year we tried that," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "It doesn't always work the way you want it to."

The Kings are trying to reverse a curious trend of road teams' success in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has held particularly true in their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with San Jose, as the visiting team has won four of the five games.

Sharks stick with Niemi for Game 6

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan put a quick end Sunday to a potential goaltender controversy.

Less than 24 hours after pulling Antti Niemi for backup Antero Niittymaki early in the first period of a 3-1 Game 5 loss to the Kings, McLellan said Niemi will be in net for Game 6 Monday night in Los Angeles.

"Well, he is our guy," McLellan said. "He's had a bounce-back game already, played extremely well the night after getting hooked. I didn't think we did a lot to help him. I think we addressed that yesterday after the game. Goal 1, double deflection. Goal 2, turnover, he makes the initial save. Goal 3, probably could have had. But he's ready to go back in and we have a ton of confidence in him."

Niemi gave up three goals in less than nine minutes on just four Kings shots Saturday at HP Pavilion earning an early exit. When he came to work Sunday, Niemi watched the "short" videotape of that disaster.

Sharks know they can win in L.A.

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks had another meltdown on home ice Saturday night and made another in-game switch at goaltender.

So instead of celebrating a series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks are preparing for Game 6 Monday night and facing a brewing goaltender controversy after suffering a 3-1 loss at HP Pavilion.

The good news for the Sharks? They get to play their next game in Los Angeles, where they've won two straight, scoring six goals each time.

Sharks know home ice is no guarantee of victory

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. --  If the San Jose Sharks needed another reminder that this has turned into the year of home-ice disadvantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they got one Saturday after their morning skate at HP Pavilion.

When the Sharks returned to their dressing room, the televisions were tuned to Game 5 of the Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay series. The Penguins were already down 5-0 and on their way to an 8-2 home loss, as their series lead was sliced to 3-2.

Including Saturday afternoon's games, visiting teams have won 10 of the past 12 playoff games. The Sharks are coming off two straight road wins in Los Angeles. And in Game 2 at HP, the Kings embarrassed the Sharks 4-0.

Kings tweak lineup in hopes of staving off elimination

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings are making lineup and line changes Saturday night at HP Pavilion in an attempt to stave off elimination in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the San Jose Sharks.

Down 3-1 in the series, Kings coach Terry Murray has chosen to insert left wing Scott Parse in the lineup and use him on a line with Michal Handzus and Justin Williams.

Dustin Penner, who has been a major disappointment since his trading deadline acquisition from Edmonton, will play on a line with Jarret Stoll and Kevin Westgarth.

"I think I'm overthinking a lot," Penner, who has a single assist and is a minus-4 in the series, said Saturday morning. "With a new team I'm not going out there and doing the things that got me here. Everybody is frustrated."

Nichol making major impact for Sharks

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sharks center Scott Nichol barely showed up in the box score from Thursday night's 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Nichol didn't score a goal. He didn't have an assist. He logged less than seven minutes of ice time. Yet to hear Kings coach Terry Murray tell it, Nichol was the Sharks' MVP as they took a 3-1 series lead.

"He's the reason why they won tonight," Murray said after the game.

A stretch? Sure. But you can't overlook Nichol's role in the second period when the Sharks scored three quick goals to take a 3-0 lead.

Niemi gets back in net, looks for better result

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Antti Niemi will be back in goal Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks attempt to grab a 3-1 lead against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Niemi confirmed as much following the team's morning skate at the Staples Center.

Yeah, sure," he said.

Niemi was pulled in favor of Antero Niittymaki 44 seconds into the second period of Tuesday's game after allowing four goals on 10 shots. The Sharks erased a 4-0 deficit with Niittymaki in the crease and pulled out a 6-5 overtime win.

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