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Sharks seeking balanced scoring in Game 4

Say top line can't continue to carry them against Kings

by Eric Gillmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have had plenty of goals from their top line of center Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl through three games of their Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

The line has combined to score five of San Jose's seven goals; three from Pavelski, and one each from Thornton and Hertl. The rest of the team has scored twice, and the bottom three lines have combined for one. That goal came from second-line center Logan Couture during a 5-on-3 power play in Game 2.

"[Thornton's] line has carried us so far," Couture said Tuesday, one day after Los Angeles defeated San Jose 2-1 in overtime and cut the Sharks' lead in the best-of-7 series to 2-1. "I think if you're playing my line, the third line, the fourth line, you want to step up and do something. We can't sit on the bench and watch [Thornton's] line go out there and carry the play. Everyone else has got to step up and do their part as well."

Coach Peter DeBoer said it was an "understatement" that the Sharks' bottom three lines need to play better in Game 4 on Wednesday at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET: USA, CSN-CA, CBC, TVAS).

"The big guys are here and I think the one thing that we've tried to create here is depth underneath to be able to support that," DeBoer said. "For most nights this year we've got it. I didn't think we got enough of it last night."

DeBoer has relied on four lines throughout the season, but in the third period and overtime Monday, the fourth line of center Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels and Nick Spaling rarely got on the ice. That stemmed largely from the fact that each took a minor penalty earlier in the game. What's more, Tierney had one minor penalty and Spaling two in San Jose's 2-1 Game 2 victory.

Video: SJS Recap: Sharks drop Game 3, series lead cut to 2-1

"The fourth line can't put you in those kind of situations," Wingels said. "I think the key for us so far in this series, the reason we've had success, is our five-on-five play. As a team, we feel like that's an area we can exploit. When you're taking penalties, especially the depth guys, that's not what you want.

"We've talked about it as a line and we've talked about it as a team. We're not, as players, going to put our team in that situation again."

Wingels, Tierney and Spaling were the only Sharks forwards from the lineup Monday who were on the ice for an optional practice Tuesday. Dainius Zubrus and Micheal Haley, who were healthy scratches the first three games, also practiced. DeBoer declined to say whether he'll make changes to his lineup for Game 4.

"Everything is in play," DeBoer said. "We'll go day-to-day here."

During the regular season, five forwards on the bottom three lines had double-digit goals: Patrick Marleau (25), Joel Ward (21), Couture (15, in 51 games), Joonas Donskoi (11) and Melker Karlsson (10).

Pavelski expects San Jose's scoring from those lines to reappear in this series.

"It's going to show up," Pavelski said. "I think we got a lot of trust in that. A lot of guys have had good looks, and it's about finding that extra shot. It's in here. Guys will get it."

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