Last round, the Los Angeles Kings dropped the opening two games in St. Louis before returning home to tie the series at Staples Center. If any team knows what the San Jose Sharks are aiming for Tuesday night in Game 4 at HP Pavilion, it’s the reigning Cup champions.
"We could put a stranglehold on the series with a win or we could be back even with a loss," Kings captain Dustin Brown said Monday after practice. "We’ve been in their situation. We know what they’re thinking, and we’ve also been in in this situation and it’s a matter of having the killer instinct."
The Sharks essentially had their season on the line in Game 3, needing to avoid a 3-0 series deficit. They pulled through in overtime. But the work is just beginning, the Sharks say.
“We haven't accomplished anything,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said Monday after practice. "We didn't get our work done in L.A., and that put us behind the eight-ball. The fact that we win Game 3, that's great, but we still are behind in the series. The series is getting shorter. The lifeline isn't as long as it was in the past, and we just have to find a way to get even. If our intensity or urgency drops because we've won a single game, I would be disappointed in our group.”
The Kings had a six-game playoff win streak snapped with the Game 3 overtime loss.
And despite being up 2-1 in the series, the Kings haven’t been happy with their overall play.
"That’s not a bad thing,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said Monday. "That’s what good players and good teams say. Some teams are just happy to make the playoffs. If you’re always trying to find way to get better, that’s a good thing."
There remains a calmness about the Kings no matter how things are going. It’s business as usual.
"Yeah, that’s part of what makes us successful as a team,” Brown said. "Whether it’s in the postseason or the regular season, through the highs and lows, we just go about our business in the right way and getting ourselves prepared. It’s going to be even more important going into Game 4 in their building."
COUTURE STILL A GO
Sharks star center Logan Couture was given Monday off from practice, but McLellan said he’s still a go for Game 4.
Couture was the overtime hero in Game 3, missing a large part of the second period after falling awkwardly into the boards.
McLellan felt it important for Couture to rest Monday.
“At this time of the year, they're like horses,” McLellan said. "They want to run, they want to play. But the ability to get some time and rest is an advantage for both teams.”
It appears gritty winger Kyle Clifford is back in the Kings lineup after being out since May 8 with an undisclosed injury.
"Cliffy is obviously a big, physical guy and he’s got a lot of speed too," Kings forward Colin Fraser said. "He can give us that emotional lift that maybe we could use right now. He’s a guy that doesn’t take a shift off, and he’s hard to play against."
Clifford skated on a line with Fraser and Brad Richardson at practice Monday.
"I think my role is just to provide energy and chip in when I can and playing with Richy and Fraser, that’s kind of our job going out," Clifford said.
KINGS GO HOME
The Kings, by the way, flew home Saturday night after Game 3 in San Jose and skated Sunday and Monday in their practice facility in El Segundo before flying back to San Jose on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday's Game 4. It's rare for both teams to be split up for two days in the middle of a series, although the Minnesota Wild also went home between Game 1 and Game 2 in Chicago last round.