The San Jose Sharks look to sweep their best of seven Quarterfinals series tonight at 7:30pm (PST) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Please note all games will be carried LIVE locally on CSNCA-HD / 98.5-102.1 FM KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network.
On each game day, sjsharks.com will reveal a “Sharks SPARK”, as we will highlight a player we expect to be the Sharks difference maker in that evening’s game. – the player to lead the Sharks to the promise land (WIN!) that night.
With the use of stats, trends, quotes and instinct we will look into the future (that evening’s game) and predict the score along with the Sharks player that provides the winning SPARK! We welcome your predictions as well… so look into your crystal ball, magic eight ball, ask your pet, or look into the stars and make your prediction as to which player with SPARK the Sharks to victory in Game 4 over the Kings!
LOOKING BACK: (PAST SPARK NOMINATIONS)
Game 1 vs. Kings – PAVELSKI
Pavelski got things rolling in Game 1 for the Sharks as he had the primary assist on the first goal of the series scored by Joe Thornton. Pavs finished with an assist, +1, 2nd on the club with six hits, and won 62% of his face-offs in 19:34 of ice time in the Sharks 6-3 victory over the Kings in Game 1.
Game 2 vs. Kings – BURNS
The Sharks were down 2-0 after twenty minutes of play in Game 2. On the ice for the opening face-off in the second period, Burns fired two quality shots on Quick and threw a booming check on Drew Doughty in the first 20 seconds to get the SAP Center buzzing at the start of the middle frame. The Sharks ended up scoring seven consecutive goals for a 7-2 win over the Kings. #88 finished 2nd on the club with six hits, 2nd with two take aways, fired four shots on goal, received a matching roughing minor, and took the ice for 18:55 of action in the Game 2 victory.
Game 3 at Kings – NIETO
The Staples Center crowd was rocking after Marian Gaborik scored a beautiful goal at 7:59 of the second period to put the Kings ahead 2-1 – but then there was a Sharks SPARK. Rookie Matt Nieto deflected a Jason Demers shot past Jonathan Quick just 1:18 later to tie the score at 2-2 and swing the momentum back in favor of San Jose. Nieto finished Game 3 with his first playoff goal, two shots, three hits, and one blocked shot in 16:42 of ice time to SPARK the Sharks to a 4-3 win.
- Finished the regular season with a 39-17-7 record with a 2.39 GAA and a .913 save %.
- Niemi’s 39 wins were 2nd in the NHL and was 3rd in minutes with 3,740.
- Recorded four regular season shutouts in 2013-14 regular season.
- 2010 Stanley Cup Champion with the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Has a career 35-23-0 record in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
- Has the most playoff wins in the NHL (32) since 2010.
- Has a 9-6-0 record vs. the LA Kings in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
- Antti is 3-0-0 with a 2.58 GAA and a .912 save % through the first three games in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
TRENDS / COININCIDENCES??
A Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks as a rookie in 2010, Niemi has the resume of a winner in the playoffs – and had shown so far in this series.
Niemi made some big saves to force overtime in Game 3 and made five more saves in the extra frame before Patrick Marleau won the game at 6:20 to win the game 4-3. “Neemo” is going to carry over that momentum with a strong Game 4 performance.
Neemo’s favorite TV Show is South Park…. The character “Cartman” from South Park is on the jumbotron at the Staples Center chanting GO KINGS GO – right up Antti’s alley!
Anze Kopitar from the LA Kings:
"We're going to come out and throw everything at them.” TRANSLATION – Niemi will be busy in Game 4.
"We're coming to win and finish them in Game 4. You can't give a team like the L.A. Kings any life. They're going to come to play.” TRANSLATION – the Sharks will be ready.
Worcester Sharks head coach Roy Sommer:
“Niemi came up real big when he needed to late in the third period and overtime in Game 3 to give the Sharks a chance to win. It’s hard to knock an opponent out and the first ten minutes will tell you a lot in Game 4.” TRANSLATION – Niemi will be tested early in the first period.
GAME 4 PREDICTION: (The Closer)
Antti Niemi has been real good through the first three games of the series vs. the Kings – not spectacular – but he hasn’t had to be as the Sharks have a 3-0 series lead. Neemo made five saves in the Game 3 overtime before Patrick Marleau won the game on the Sharks first shot in the extra frame. Antti has made the BIG saves when he has needed to. Look for Niemi to SPARK the Sharks with some momentum changing saves in the first period and shut the door late for his best performance so far in this series. The Sharks will weather the storm early (thanks to Niemi), score a couple of goals, and then hold on late for a 3-2 win in Game 4 to sweeeeep the Kings!
WHO IS YOUR GAME 4 SPARK?
What is your prediction for Game 4? Who do you think will SPARK the Sharks to a Game 4 victory over the Kings? Join the conversation below…. #SharksSparkPrediction