This series has now come down to a best-of-three with the Kings still owning home-ice advantage after the Sharks won two-straight at home.
Now, with the series tied, it’s once again anybody’s game.
The Sharks are not likely to see any lineup changes occur after winning two-straight games, albeit very close ones. Instead, they will continue to rely on the big guys who have continually stepped up all postseason. One of those guys, Joe Thornton, had a great game five and was a catalyst for a strong San Jose first period.
Thornton now has one goal and eight assists totaling nine points, good for third on the Sharks. He trails Joe Pavelski (four goals, six assists) by one point and Logan Couture (five goals, six assists), who scored his third game-winning goal of the postseason in game four, by two points.
Meanwhile the Kings, who have only scored two goals in their last two games, have started to mix lines quite a bit in practice. We could see a whole new set of lines come tonight including captain Dustin Brown on the third line. Taking his place on the top line was Kyle Clifford during practice. Interesting to note was that Tyler Toffoli, arguably the Kings’ best forward in the series, could be relegated to fourth line duties.
The basic gist of Darryl Sutter’s changes would be to create a more balanced attack rather than the top-heavy one they have employed in the series so far.
Part of the reason the Sharks were able to win at home was because they were able play the matchup game well. On the road that is much harder to do, and the Kings will have the luxury of last change in game five.
Not to mention the fact that Los Angeles has not lost a game at home since Mach 23rd, a 12-game span, and you have a tough task for a San Jose team that was not the best on the road throughout the regular season.
With that being said, the Sharks did come very close in game two of the series before blowing the lead and then losing it within a minute, so they know they can win at Staples. It’s just a matter of putting together a full 60 minutes.