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Gaborik getting up to speed

Forward says Kings have to 'raise their level' against Sharks in Game 3

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter may have felt that right wing Marian Gaborik was his best player in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, but Gaborik felt a bit differently.

Gaborik, out since Feb. 12 with a right knee sprain, played Saturday for the first time in nine weeks. He said the pace was faster than he expected and that for parts of the game it felt like he was trying to catch a moving train.

Eventually, things settled down; or Gaborik caught up to the pace at which hockey is played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The start was fast out there, but as the game went on, I felt better and better," Gaborik said. "I felt better and better as the game went on, but overall, everyone needs to raise their level."

The Kings lost 2-1 in Game 2 and head to San Jose in a 0-2 series hole. Game 3 is Monday at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, PRIME, CSN-CA).

Gaborik, who played 14:32 and had four shots on goal, the second-highest total on the team, expects to feel more comfortable Monday.

Video: SJS@LAK, GM2: Jones makes blocker save on high shot

He skated during a short but brisk practice Sunday at Toyota Sports Center and reported no problems with his knee.

Defenseman Alec Martinez, the other major injury concern for the Kings, did not skate Sunday. Martinez, the team's second-best defenseman, was injured in the second period of Game 1 and missed Game 2. It is unlikely he will play Monday.

"I feel pretty good," Gaborik said. "I did some stuff in the gym [Sunday] and had a good skate, so I feel pretty good."

Gaborik opened Game 2 on the first line, playing with center Anze Kopitar and left wing Milan Lucic, but the lines were switched regularly throughout the game. Sutter said after Game 2 that part of the rotating line combinations had to do with Gaborik taking shorter shifts because of his long layoff, but there was also a need to find a forward unit that could generate some offense.

Los Angeles had five shots in the first period and seven shots as the game neared the midway point. The Kings' goal, by Vincent Lecavalier at 14:59 of the third period, came on a power play.

"They are the highest [shot]-blocking team out there, but we just have to find the lanes, whether it's the defensemen or us forwards," Gaborik said. "We have to find those lanes or create those lanes. Just try to get it off our sticks quick and make sure it goes to the net and just shoot with a purpose."

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