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Kings must stay out of box to stay alive

Los Angeles has to avoid penalties against Sharks in Game 5

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter guessed that everyone would want to talk about the San Jose Sharks power play on Thursday. He was correct.

That was understandable, coming one day after Los Angeles gave up three power-play goals in a 3-2 loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round. But the Kings say the focus instead should be on 5-on-5 play and how evenly matched the teams have been at even strength in the best-of-7 series, which San Jose leads 3-1.

The key for Los Angeles again in Game 5 at Staples Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET: CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports, PRIME, CSN-CA) is to stay out of the penalty box. That's been a problem in the first four games.

"We need to play within our roles as much as we can," Kings forward Marian Gaborik said. "We scored two 5-on-5 goals and they scored three on the power play, so it's common sense to stay out of the box."

But there are times when the Kings have been forced to take a penalty. They've done so to disrupt the Sharks forecheck and break up cycles. The problem is the number of bad penalties they've paid for: The Kings have allowed 10 goals in the series, five on the power play.

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm4: Pavelski buries Thornton's pass for PPG

"There's always good and bad penalties," Kings forward Vincent Lecavalier said. "Tripping penalties are never a good penalty, or hooking penalties. But sometimes it might happen and you save a goal. That becomes a good penalty. But you want to stay out of the box. They have a good [power play], and they are going to get some opportunities and we have to shut them down. When we get our opportunities on the power play we need to capitalize."

There were no special-teams drills Thursday. The Kings held an off-ice practice with a handful of reserves taking the ice. Injured defenseman Alec Martinez did not practice.

The Kings say there's no need to panic about the power play or trailing the series 3-1. For now, they just need to win one game. They'll worry about a third win and a fourth win after a second one; after all, they know they did come back from trailing 3-0 to defeat San Jose in the first round in 2014.

However, Sutter downplayed any carryover from that historic comeback.

"I don't think there's anything to that at all, quite honest," Sutter said. "It was totally, totally different, and it was 3-0, not 3-1, and we felt we deserved to win Game 3 that time. We didn't look at it like that, and it's the same thing now. You can't win three. You can win one. That's tomorrow."

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm4: Marleau backhands it home for PPG

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