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Kings need rare win at San Jose to stay alive

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Los Angeles Kings survived one win-or-go-home game in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, staying alive with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Staples Center.

Now the Kings, who trail 3-1 in the series, will try to survive Game 5 on Saturday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA), a place Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter called "the cage" after his team's victory.

The cage has not been kind to the Kings. They're lost five straight playoff games at SAP, three last year in their second-round victory and two this year. Including regular-season games, they've played 12 games at San Jose since the start of the 2011-12 season and have one victory (a 1-0 shutout Jan. 27 by goaltender Jonathan Quick).

"It's tough to win in this building," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the morning skate. "We know what we have to do, and we know how to beat this team. The bottom line is we need to have a good start like always. We want to get that first goal, and we've been letting them back in the game by letting them get one next. We need to build on that lead and push them out of the game."

The Sharks jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 1 at San Jose and won 6-3. In Game 2, they spotted the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first but scored seven unanswered goals for a 7-2 victory.

"The way they play at home is really high-paced and they really go after it," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "I think that probably could be said for a lot of teams in their home building, but I find here it's more about momentum swings than most buildings because the crowd gets really into it and really loud. I think they thrive off of it. One of those things when you can maybe respond with a quick goal after their goal, those are the types of momentum breaks you need to kind of stay in it here."

After the Kings lost 4-3 in overtime in Game 3 at Staples Center, they had their best game of the series Thursday, playing with desperation and energy.

The Sharks don't have the desperation of an elimination game but they'll draw energy from their fans and gain confidence simply by being home.

"It's awesome," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said after their morning skate. "We love playing here. Me, personally, I love getting a chance to play here, especially playoffs. That's the way this team feels, so we're excited to be back here."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he felt good about his team approaching Game 5.

"We get a great opportunity in front of us," McLellan said. "We know we have to be better. That simple fact makes me feel good. We know we have to be better. We weren't good enough last game. We're not fooling ourselves. It's an opportunity that's in front of us here on our home ice. We want to make good on it."

The Sharks don't want to return to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Monday and give the Kings a chance to force Game 7.

"You work to get the 3-0 lead, which you probably don't expect," Pavelski said. "Once you get there, then you start thinking about trying to get that next win. At the start you never worry about that. You're worried about your next game. It slowly builds. When you get your situations you've got to take care of business. Tonight we've got to come out with a good start and establish our game."

Based on the morning skates, the Sharks and Kings will likely keep the same lineups, lines and defensive pairs for Game 5 that they used in Game 4.

Brown skated on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and left wing Marian Gaborik. Justin Williams remained on the third line with center Jarret Stoll and Dwight King.

Pavelski skated on the top line with center Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. There's always the chance McLellan could adjust on the fly and move Pavelski to third-line center with rookie Tomas Hertl jumping to Thornton's line.

Here are the projected lineups:


Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels

Raffi Torres - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Matt Irwin, Matt Tennyson, Marty Havlat, Bracken Kearns, Tyler Kennedy

Injured: Adam Burish (hand)


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov

Willie Mitchell - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Colin Fraser, Matt Greene, Jordan Nolan

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