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Sharks seek same chemistry for Game 2

by Corey Masisak

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn't sound like someone who is planning much in the way of alterations to his lineup after a resounding Game 1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Sharks roared out to a five-goal lead Thursday and navigated some nervy moments in the third period of a 6-3 win that opened this best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series.

Game 2 is Sunday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-W, CSN-CA), and McLellan didn't rule out lineup changes but had plenty of praise for his group after an optional skate Friday.

"We'll continue to evaluate the game," McLellan said. "We'll also look at where we are physically. I don't think fatigue will be a big factor now, but it could as the series goes on, bumps, bruises, that type of stuff, and come up with a lineup that we think will give us a chance at success in the second game."

Two forwards with health concerns, Raffi Torres and Tomas Hertl, had a big impact in Game 1. Each said Friday he came out of the game OK.

Another potential concern for McLellan was the Sharks' third line. Instead of putting Joe Pavelski in the middle to fortify that group against a Kings team that is deep at center, the coach let James Sheppard play between Hertl and Tommy Wingels.

The line created a goal near the end of the first period but was on the ice for two against in the third. All three finished the game with a Corsi for percentage at even strength below 40 percent, but they were all above 60 percent when it was close in the first period.

"I thought offensively they were as big as a catalyst group as we had. They created a lot," McLellan said. "They were on top of things for the most part. Defensively, we've got to polish some things up with them. I think that's fair to say about all of our group. We were up and down throughout the night and still have to get better to have long-term success in this series."

Sheppard finished the game with two assists. He made the first pass on Hertl's goal during a 3-on-2 break, then collected a second assist after he left the ice on Patrick Marleau's goal to make it 3-0 48 seconds later. Sheppard made the outlet pass to set Marleau and Matt Nieto free on a 2-on-1 before going for a change.

Though the teams were nearly even in the faceoff circle, Sheppard lost 9 of 11. He spent some during the optional skate working on that area.

He took the sixth-most faceoffs on the Sharks in the regular season. The five ahead of him all won more than 50 percent; Sheppard finished the season at 45.1 percent.

"In fairness to James, he hasn't been put in that situation a lot, until the last month-and-a-half," McLellan said. "He's trying to polish that up, and I know he's doing everything that he can. On home ice with the last change, we have that luxury if we have to in the defensive zone to get certain people out. But, again, if they're fatigued, he has to step up and win some of those. It will be maybe a greater concern when we get on the road."

McLellan decided to play forward Mike Brown instead of Marty Havlat or Tyler Kennedy on the fourth line with Torres and Andrew Desjardins. In a physically charged contest, the trio did plenty of hitting, and Torres scored the Sharks' fourth goal on a scramble after a line change.

The trio played one game together before this but fit together well.

"I've never won a Stanley Cup but I've been to the Finals twice, and the teams that have won, you could tell it's not two or three guys, it's six [defensemen], four lines and great goaltending and obviously solid coaching," Torres said. "When I've talked to guys that have won, they say everybody chips in, everybody does their part, and that's how you win championships.

"Those years that I've gone pretty deep, everybody was a part of it, everybody stuck their hand in the water at some point in the playoffs to help out."

McLellan said he was pleased with how that line played in Game 1.

"We like what they did," he said. "Every night is a new night, depending on what they do with the lineup, what we do with the lineup. Anything is possible. After Game 1, we like what they did."

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