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Kings still waiting on production from Kopitar's line

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Justin Williams was an integral part of the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run. He was in the neighborhood of being a point-per-game player with four goals and 11 assists in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and finished sixth in postseason scoring.

Of course, that came during a historic tear by an eighth-seeded Kings team. It's a bumpier road this time around, and Williams owned up to some speed wobbles the day before Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks.

Williams and linemates Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have a combined one goal in the series, with no assists.

"It's going to take our best players, myself at the top of the list, to get more offense," Williams said. "I mean, it's plain and simple -- your guys who produce during the year need to produce just as much, if not more, during the playoffs -- whether that be creating momentum, or creating goal-scoring opportunities, or actually putting the puck in the net, which we need to do a lot more. We need to be better at it."

Williams might be given some slack because he could be masking a physical toll. He did not play in the final five minutes of Game 2 and took a big hit from Brad Stuart in Game 3. His line has been going up against a territorially selfish Joe Thornton line and mostly against the speedier Logan Couture line in Game 3.

As a group, the Kings feel they have not made it difficult on San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi and gotten under the skin of the Vezina Trophy candidate. They get a second crack at it in Game 4 on Tuesday at HP Pavilion (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), where they need to improve on their 1-3 postseason road record. L.A. leads the series, 2-1.

"We've got a good home record, but we can't rest and be comfortable just being a great home team," Williams said. "We need to be killers on the road. Coming back with a 3-1 lead is certainly something we're going to do our darnedest to do."

San Jose has outplayed Los Angeles in much of the first three games, but L.A. continues to fall upward despite being outshot 106-78 and yielding offensive zone time to San Jose. The Sharks took Game 3 in overtime, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the slate comes clean from game-to-game.

"Once you get in the playoffs, there's zero momentum, unless somebody's way better than somebody -- and as you see, nobody is," Sutter said. "If there's a carryover, then you're probably not a playoff team."

With such a small margin between the teams, this could be another lengthy series for the Kings, who grinded out a six-game win against the St. Louis Blues in the quarterfinals. This is more personal because it's against a divisional rival, and there are few unknowns between the two.

Williams touched on having the will to extinguish the opponent and having a target on their back.

"Every series, every team is different," he said. "Each has its own type of story. Everyone's got a different spot of where they're at, whether it's as we are [to] defend the Cup, [or] other teams trying to take it from us. This is a veteran team we're playing, a team that's won a lot of playoff games. They obviously haven't won the whole thing, but they've been very successful in the playoffs. They want it, and we need to match that or exceed that."

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