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Five keys for Sharks vs. Kings, Game 4

Los Angeles has to be disciplined; San Jose's top line needs help

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

SAN JOSE -- The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks play Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series at SAP Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-CA, FS-W). 

The Sharks lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Here are five keys to Game 4:

1. Block party: The Kings blocked 27 shots in Game 3, giving the Sharks a dose of the medicine Los Angeles was forced to swallow in each of the first two games. The result was tangible; the Sharks had far fewer Grade-A chances in Game 3 and could not get many shots from the point through to Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

"I thought in Game 1, there were a couple of shots that got past us as defensemen that I thought we could have had," Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "You try to fill a lane and force them to shoot where the goalie has it covered and hopefully everything works out OK."

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm1: Pavelski scores two, nets game-winner

2. Depth charge: San Jose's top line needs some help. 

Right wing Joe Pavelski has three goals, center Joe Thornton has one and left wing Tomas Hertl has one. Center Logan Couture has a 5-on-3 power-play goal and defenseman Brent Burns has the other goal.

That means the nine other forwards in San Jose's lineup do not have a goal.

"Jumbo's line has carried us so far," Couture said, referencing Thornton's nickname. "If you're playing on my line, the third line or the fourth line, you want to step up and do something. You can't sit on the bench and watch Jumbo's line go out there and carry the play. Everyone else has to step up and do their part as well.''

3. Walk the line: The Kings were much more emotionally involved in Game 3. They instigated confrontations and post-whistle scrums. Captain Dustin Brown said the Kings feed off that emotion; however, it can be a double-edged sword.

On Monday, left wing Milan Lucic took a slashing penalty at 9:40 of the third period that was termed "not advisable" by coach Darryl Sutter. The Sharks were dangerous throughout the penalty; they had 10 shot attempts on the power play.

The Kings have to measure their desire to be physically and emotionally engaged with the danger of being penalized for extra-curricular activity.

"It's not good to be engaged after the whistle," Sutter said. "That's when guys with the stop signs get involved. It's not good. You go whistle to whistle.''

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Kopitar ties the game on the power play

4. Be special: Special teams are playing a big role in this series. The Kings have a power-play goal in each game and scored a shorthanded goal in Game 1. The Sharks have had man-advantage goals in each of their two wins, scored another that came one second after a Kings penalty expired and have been at their most dangerous throughout the series on the power play.

The key for the rest of the series will be getting on the power play and then doing something with those opportunities.

"These two teams are close; it's close-checking," Sutter said. "If you look at it, it's a power-play series. Our power play has scored what now, in every game? And a shorthanded goal. And their power play only shows up as one [goal] in Game 1 but really it's two. … And one in Game 2. So it's been power plays.''

5. Traffic jam: The Kings have split the past two games, but they have not sent the scoreboard spinning with their offensive prowess. They have one regulation goal in each game; San Jose goalie Martin Jones, starting in the playoffs for the first time, has stopped 48 of 51 shots in the past two games.

The Kings want to see Jones, a former teammate, have to work harder.

"I still think we need to do a lot better job in and around Jones because he has been able to see a lot of pucks," Brown said "We've got to get more bodies and more shots. We have to find a way to get it around the net a bit more."

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