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Kings hope to force Game 7 against Sharks

by Eric Goodman

(San Jose leads best-of-seven series, 3-2)


Big story: Now that Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick made a playoff franchise-record 51 saves in Game 5 at San Jose and his teammates supported him with  three first-period goals to give the Kings a 3-1 win on Saturday, the series shifts back to Staples Center in Southern California. The Kings will continue to try and win their first playoff series in which they were down 3-1 since they battled back from that same deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in the 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose has been offensively potent in its three wins this series, totaling 15 goals over Games 1, 3 and 4. However, goals have been very difficult to come by in the two loses to Los Angeles as the Sharks scored just once over those two games.

Starting goalie Antti Niemi was chased in Game 5 after surrendering three straight goals just 8:42 into the game and was replaced by backup Antero Niittymaki who shut out the Kings the rest of the way and racked up 18 saves in the process. But any hopes for a comeback akin to Game 3 when the Sharks erased a four-goal deficit to win 6-5 in overtime was dashed as Patrick Marleau tallied the Sharks' only goal on Saturday.

"If we were expecting another miracle, it won't happen," coach Todd McLellan said following the game. "We've used our mulligan up. It's not going to happen again."

Kings: Los Angeles knows that its playoff hopes hinge on the play of Quick, but the Kings will need to continue turning up the heat on the offensive side in order to compete in the final two games of this series.

While Quick wowed the crowd with save after save on Saturday, first-period goals by Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Clifford and Dustin Penner gave the Kings the cushion they needed to force a Game 6 back at home. However, almost everyone on the Kings bench knew that it was Quick's spectacular effort that required the most praise.

"He's the reason why we're still alive in the series," Kings head coach Terry Murray said.
Who's hot: For the Sharks, Marleau is in the midst of a three-game point streak with two goals, two assists and a plus-2 rating over that span. ... Clifford had a goal and an assist in Game 5 and now is tied with Brad Richardson for the team lead with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) over the first five games of this series.

Injury report: There hasn't been any injury news from either side, although the Kings' Anze Kopitar hasn't played since Mar. 26 with a fractured ankle.

Stat pack: The Sharks' 3-1 loss to the Kings in Game 5 on Saturday was not for lack of trying. San Jose outshout L.A. in that game 52-22.

Puck drop: While the Kings hope to amp up their scoring pace on Monday, it has been their goaltender's ability to keep the puck out of the net that has gotten them two wins in this series. This was a fact that coach Murray continued to drive home following Saturday's win.

"We needed him here tonight. There's no question. They were going to come out with emotion, with energy," said Murray about Quick's ability to stave off the San Jose attack in Game 5. "[The Sharks] were going to put a lot of pucks to the net, to close this series out, and at the end of the day, he's the difference."
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