The San Jose Sharks were riding high for the first three games of their series against the Los Angeles Kings, but any hockey fan will tell you that to expect a sweep in a series between these two in-state rivals would be ludicrous.
These two teams are simply too talented, deep and similar for one to sweep the other, and the Sharks learned that in Game 4 on Thursday night, when they were beaten 6-3 by the Kings. For the first time all series, the Sharks were unable to match the Kings’ intensity, as Los Angeles scored three unanswered goals after the game was tied 2-2. Antti Niemi, who allowed five goals on 28 shots, was pulled in favor of backup Alex Stalock. Game 4 should serve as a wakeup call for the Sharks, as now they know the Kings aren’t going to bend and break that easily.
However, the Sharks still have a big advantage in the series, up 3-1 with two home games left to close things out. But Game 5 is important, because if the Sharks fail to close things out Saturday night, Game 6 will be a challenge down in L.A., and if they lose that, then Game 7 will be a free-for-all.
San Jose has been down this road before back in 2011, when it was up 3-0 on the Red Wings in the semifinals. Detroit rallied for three straight wins before the Sharks won Game 7. Playing those few extra games may have affected the Sharks’ energy level, as they lost to the Canucks in five games in the conference finals.
The bottom line? Game 5 is a golden opportunity for the Sharks to close out the Kings at home, and they need to take advantage of it.
Sharks: Adam Burish (hand) is out
Opening Faceoff: 7:00 PM PST
Location: SAP Center, San Jose, CA
TV: NBCSN, LOCAL