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Kings' Clifford could play in Game 3 vs. Sharks

Los Angeles may insert gritty forward; San Jose looks for 3-0 series lead

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

Game 3: KINGS at SHARKS

Western Conference First Round

San Jose leads best-of-7 series 2-0

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CA, PRIME, CBC, TVA Sports

SAN JOSE -- Forward Kyle Clifford likely will return to the lineup for the Los Angeles Kings when they visit the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at SAP Center on Monday.

Clifford, a healthy scratch for Game 2, was off the ice early at the morning skate. Forwards Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff stayed on the ice late and likely will be healthy scratches.

If Clifford is given an opportunity, he wants to play his regular gritty game.

"It's an important game for us," said Clifford, a fourth-line left wing. "Everybody knows that. Energy, getting shots, creating opportunities, being strong in the 'D' zone, checking well and detail."

The Sharks lead the series 2-0 after defeating the Kings 4-3 in Game 1 on Thursday and 2-1 in Game 2 on Saturday at Staples Center. But Kings coach Darryl Sutter has seen signs of encouragement despite back-to-back losses.

"We're in good position," Sutter said. "We just did an analytical, and the analysis there is we feel we could be 1-1 or 2-0. Do that same thing tonight and hopefully get a better result."

Kings first-line center Anze Kopitar, who led the team with 74 points in the regular season, has no goals, one assist and one shot on goal in the series. Forward Tyler Toffoli, who led the Kings with 31 goals, and All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty each do not have a point.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he expects all three to push back harder.

"You've got some Stanley Cup champions there," DeBoer said after an optional morning skate. "At the same time, I don't think they've played that poorly. I think we've done a good job on them. I'd rather give us credit than say that they're not bringing it. They're bringing it. They're trying to push. We've done a good job on them. We've got to continue to do that."

Doughty said the Kings haven't shown even close to their best effort yet, and he is confident that will change Monday.

"We have a lot more to give," Doughty said. "There's no way we can go down another game. Tonight's a huge game, and, if we play our game, I know we can beat them.

"We did some things right and there's no doubt at times throughout both games we were the more dominant team and things just didn't go our way. We just have to continue to do those things properly and learn from our mistakes and start playing with that swagger and confidence that we have as a team. I think we're missing it a little bit right now, but tonight we're going to bring it back."

Sharks center Logan Couture said he expects to see the Kings' best effort of the series in Game 3.

"They're going to be better. They're going to realize where they're at, and we've got to match their intensity and their push," Couture said.

DeBoer said he'll stick with the same lineup he used for the first two games. Sharks goalie Martin Jones will start against his former team for the eighth time this season, including the regular season.

Here are the projected lineups:

KINGS

Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Marian Gaborik      

Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Vincent Lecavalier - Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Kris Versteeg

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Luke Schenn

Rob Scuderi - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Alec Martinez (undisclosed), Matt Greene (shoulder), Jordan Nolan (back)

Scratched: Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Kevin Gravel

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Melker Karlsson

Nick Spaling - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: None

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Michael Haley, Dainius Zubrus

Status update: Martinez was not on the ice and did not have a stall in the Kings' dressing room. He has not skated since leaving Game 1 late in the second period after blocking a shot. ... Greene skated but will be out of the lineup again. ... With Andreoff and Shore expected to be healthy scratches, Lewis likely will center the Kings' fourth line. ... Zubrus, who played in 32 of the Sharks' final 34 regular-season games, will be a healthy scratch for the third straight playoff game.

Who's hot: Pavelski has three goals and four points in two games this series, and 14 points in seven games this season against the Kings (including regular season). ... Burns has a goal, two assists and eight shots on goal. ... Muzzin has one goal and one assist. ... Pearson has two assists.

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