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Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Five reasons Kings advanced to conference final

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 1:55 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

How does a team advance to the Western Conference Final averaging 2.00 goals a game and losing five of six road games? How did that team win a Game 7 with four shots on goal in the first period and three shots in the third?

Yes, these 2013 Los Angeles Kings are grindingly unique. Instead of leaving the opposition in its rear-view mirror in a neat, 20-game, 60-day scamper through the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they did last season, these Kings needed 13 excruciatingly close games in 29 days to get through the first two rounds.

The next thing that comes easy for L.A. will be the first. Yet, it sits on six straight playoff series wins after eliminating the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night.

There are no eye-opening revelations in answering the aforementioned questions, but here are five reasons the Kings advanced to the conference final:

Five reasons Sharks were eliminated from playoffs

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 12:50 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

After finishing the regular season on a 12-5-1 run then sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in a quarterfinal series, the San Jose Sharks appeared poised to return to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four years.

But in the end, the Sharks' path came down to a winner-take-all Game 7 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings -- a closely contested finale the Kings won, 2-1, to advance to the next round.

It was an abrupt end for the Sharks, who at times looked like a frontrunner to compete for the Stanley Cup, particularly when they opened the season with seven straight wins. In a series against the Kings that could have gone either way, the Sharks were eliminated by the slimmest of margins.

Here are five reasons the Sharks were eliminated:

Breaking down Game 7 between Kings, Sharks

Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 10:32 AM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

If the San Jose Sharks are going to advance to the Western Conference Finals, they're going to have to do something Tuesday night that they haven't done in 2013:

Win a game at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Kings are 5-0 at home against the Sharks this year, including 3-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals -- a series that has seen the home team win all six games so far.

Does home ice swing the edge to the Kings in Game 7 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), or are there other areas where the Sharks can gain an advantage to finally beat the Kings at Staples Center?

Let's examine:

Sharks power play should be key to Game 6

Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 5:00 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture didn't hold back when critiquing his team's power play after a 3-0 loss at Staples Center to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.

In a word, the Sharks' power play was "garbage," Couture said Thursday night.

The Sharks went 0-for-3 with the man advantage in Game 5, and it's clear they'll need to get their power play back on track Sunday night against the Kings at HP Pavilion in Game 6 to stave off elimination and force a Game 7.

When the Sharks beat Los Angeles in Games 3 and 4 at San Jose, they scored four goals, with three of them coming on the power play. They're 3-for-9 at home on the power play against the Kings and 0-for-10 on the road in three games, all losses.

Verbal barbs beginning to fly between Kings, Sharks

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 5:20 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The only thing surprising about the verbal bricks lobbed between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks lately is that it took this long for it to materialize publicly.

After four intense Stanley Cup Playoff games, the in-state and division rivals cranked up their annoyance for each other before Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Kings responded to accusations by Sharks forward TJ Galiardi that L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick is embellishing contact near him in his crease. Sharks forward Logan Couture accused Kings captain Dustin Brown of diving after a collision between the two in Game 4.

Kings may shuffle lines for Game 5

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:02 AM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals


The Los Angeles Kings have perfected the art of playing -- and winning -- low-scoring playoff games. But scoring one goal a game, as they did in consecutive road losses to the San Jose Sharks in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals -- isn't enough, even for one of the NHL's tightest-checking teams.

That's why Kings coach Darryl Sutter opted to make some changes to his lines at Wednesday's practice.

First-line center Anze Kopitar, who usually plays with Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, saw Brown moved to a trio with Dwight King and Trevor Lewis. In Brown's place, fourth-line grinder Kyle Clifford was moved up to the top line. Dustin Penner was on the left of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, while Brad Richardson, Colin Fraser and rookie Tyler Toffoli comprised the fourth line.

Sharks hope to end Kings' home winning streak

Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 7:13 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks proved they could beat the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion, winning Games 3 and 4 to pull even in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

Now comes the hard part for San Jose: The series shifts back to Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 5.

The Sharks have lost all four of their road games this season against the Kings, two in the regular season and two in the postseason. The Kings have won five straight Stanley Cup Playoff games on home ice and 12 straight games overall. They've gone 24-4-1 this season in L.A.

"Well, their record proves they're a pretty darn good team there, and they have been for a number of years," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday after a team meeting and optional practice. "The energy that they gather from their fans is a factor as well.

"We know that for us to accomplish our goal, we have to take something away from them in their building. This crack is our first chance at it, and it could be our last, so we may as well do what we can right off the bat."

Thornton leading Sharks with strong play on ice

Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 6:25 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- For the first time in Joe Thornton's Stanley Cup Playoff career, the San Jose Sharks captain had been flying a bit under the radar, sharing the attention and pressure on a team that has a longer list of stars and characters than in the past.

Joe Thornton
Center - SJS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 9
SOG: 20 | +/-: 6
But the man they call "Jumbo Joe" was in full view Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, dominating Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals and leading the Sharks to a 2-1 victory that squared the series at two wins apiece.

"I think everybody has been talking about his first period," linemate Brent Burns said Wednesday after a team meeting and optional skate. "I really think he has been great. I think he's always on another level from a lot of players. In the playoffs he's really stepped it up and he's been playing great hockey for a while now. Last night it was maybe more noticeable that he was playing great. For me, being on his line, I don't think he was ever slow. He's always been great. It's definitely fun to play with a guy like that."

An energized Thornton did some of his best work early in the first period when he forced a turnover, won a race to the puck, then sent a cross-ice pass to Burns in the left circle. Burns' first shot was blocked. No problem. Thornton got the puck again and sent another cross-ice pass to Burns, who ripped a shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

Kearns' arrival with Sharks a lesson in perseverance

Tuesday, 05.21.2013 / 12:45 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Bracken Kearns already had played for seven minor-league teams over six-plus seasons before he made his NHL debut, Oct. 20, 2011, as a member of the Florida Panthers.

Kearns turned 32 two days before making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, May 14 for the Sharks, in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Los Angeles Kings.

If the Sharks gave out awards for Most Patient Player, it undoubtedly would go to Kearns, the son of former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dennis Kearns.

"My dad's first year in the NHL, he was 26 and he played 10 years," Kearns said. "He was a bit of a late-bloomer. He always told me in this game you need somebody to like you, a GM or a coach. Sometimes you have to go through people who aren't really big on you until you find the right situation, and this organization's been really good to me."

Kings still waiting on production from Williams' line

Monday, 05.20.2013 / 6:01 PM / Kings vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Semifinals

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Justin Williams was an integral part of the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run. He was in the neighborhood of being a point-per-game player with four goals and 11 assists in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and finished sixth in postseason scoring.

Of course, that came during a historic tear by an eighth-seeded Kings team. It's a bumpier road this time around, and Williams owned up to some speed wobbles the day before Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks.

Williams and linemates Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have a combined one goal in the series, with no assists.

"It's going to take our best players, myself at the top of the list, to get more offense," Williams said. "I mean, it's plain and simple -- your guys who produce during the year need to produce just as much, if not more, during the playoffs -- whether that be creating momentum, or creating goal-scoring opportunities, or actually putting the puck in the net, which we need to do a lot more. We need to be better at it."

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