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Kings hope to avoid being swept by Sharks

by Corey Masisak


(San Jose leads best-of-7 series, 3-0)


Big story: The San Jose Sharks have a chance to sweep what was expected to be one of the closest of the eight first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings will try to extend their season and force another trip to Northern California to extend the Western Conference First Round series.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose rolled through the first two games of this series but finally faced the type of test it expected from Los Angeles in Game 3. Sharks coach Todd McLellan was not happy with how his team played in overtime, even if Patrick Marleau scored 6:20 into extra time to give the Sharks a 4-3 win. The Sharks will be looking for more consistency in Game 4 and have a chance to sweep through the first round for the second time in as many seasons.

San Jose also knows how costly it can be to not take advantage of the opportunity to sweep. The Sharks led the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals. Detroit won three straight games before the Sharks won 3-2 in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final.

McLellan, asked if he will discuss the Sharks' 2013 sweep of the Vancouver Canucks with his team, said, "We have already. In fact, we went further because we've had two different experiences. We had the Detroit experience with a large part of this group where we didn't close them out and it went seven games and perhaps that hurt us after we did win Game 7. With the Vancouver experience last year, that was the Canucks' best game in the series. They pushed us as hard as they could, and we expect the same [Thursday] night."

Kings: Los Angeles improved in Game 3 after a pair of ugly losses at SAP Center but still ended up on the losing end. The core of this team has been together for a while and hasn't faced a 3-0 series deficit in the playoffs.

Two players who have faced one are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter; they were part of the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers team that rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Boston Bruins with four straight victories (Carter missed the series due to injury).

"Anything is possible if you're still playing hockey, you still have a chance," Richards said. "You just can't look at the mountain and expect to do it all at once. It's a process to just put games together, put shifts together. And it starts with Thursday night. You can't win four unless you win one."

Who's hot: Marleau has a goal in every game of this series. He has 60 playoff goals and 101 points. He's second among active players in postseason goals and his next one will tie him with Jaromir Jagr for the most. … Forwards Anze Kopitar and Carter, and defenseman Drew Doughty, lead the Kings with three points each, and they have combined for eight of L.A.'s 10 assists.

Injury report: Sharks forward Adam Burish (hand) remains out but everyone else should be available. Defenseman Justin Braun missed a couple of shifts in the third period of Game 3 but pronounced himself fit. … The Kings should have everyone available.

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