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Sharks, Kings to play Game 7 in Los Angeles

by Adam Kimelman


(Best-of-7 series is tied 3-3)


Big story: The home team has won every game in this series so far, but the Sharks are hot, winning three of the past four to force this Game 7. Can the Sharks continue their resilient play? Or will the Kings' championship pedigree carry them to the Western Conference Finals?

Team Scope:

Sharks: Game 7 in any playoff series is a pressure-cooker, a win-or-go-home experience that can cause even the calmest of minds to start jumping around.

Sharks center Scott Gomez, however, could be the rare player immune from Game 7 nerves. Tuesday will mark the 10th Game 7 of the 33-year-old's NHL career.

"It means I'm getting old, I guess," Gomez said after practice Monday. "Someone brought that up the other day and I started thinking about all of them. I couldn't remember most of them."

Gomez is 6-3 in his nine Game 7s, including a win in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the New Jersey Devils. But it's the ones he lost -- including Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final -- that stick with him the most.

"I'll never forget the worst moment, losing a game 7 [in the Cup Final]," Gomez said. "[Devils general manager Lou] Lamoriello always said it best, 'When it comes to Game 7, if you can look yourself in the mirror after and know you gave it your all, that's what it's about.' I'll always remember him saying that."

Kings: The Los Angeles franchise doesn't have a lot of recent Game 7 experience -- the most recent time the club played in one was 2002 -- but that doesn't mean the players don't have history in Game 7s.

Mike Richards is 3-0 in Game 7s, including a memorable second-round series in 2010 that saw his Philadelphia Flyers force a Game 7 after rallying from a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 hole in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. Justin Williams won a pair of Game 7s with the Carolina Hurricanes en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Kings captain Dustin Brown said having those players, as well as a few others, will help those who haven't gone through that kind of pressure. Brown said he believes enough of his teammates have gone through other big games, so Tuesday shouldn't be something out of the ordinary.

"You've also got guys that have played in an Olympic gold-medal game, which is probably the equivalent of a Game 7," Brown said in reference to himself, Richards and Drew Doughty, who played for Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "Guys have experience in big games. You look at a group of our guys [who] have won world juniors ... those final games in those world juniors and world championships and Olympics, those are Game 7s. It's a matter of using that experience and trying to get yourself ready."

Who's hot: Sharks goalie Antti Niemi has allowed five goals in the past four games -- three of which the Sharks won -- after letting in six in the first two games.

Injury report: Sharks forward Martin Havlat (lower body) is questionable. … Kings center Jarret Stoll (upper body) is out.

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