NHL Betting Preview: LA Kings host San Jose Sharks

By: David Schwab | Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The San Jose Sharks will look to take a commanding 3-1 lead in Game 4 of their first round, best-of-seven Western Conference playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Kings this Thursday night at Staples Center. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. (PT) and it will be broadcast nationally on TSN.

San Jose started things off with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 as a 198 home favorite, but suffered a 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Kings last Saturday as 187 chalk.

The Sharks were able to regain their home-ice advantage with another overtime victory in Tuesday night’s Game 3. This time they came away with a 6-5 win as a 121 road favorite after rallying from a four-goal deficit.

The 11 combined goals went well ‘over’ the NHL odds.

Patrick Marleau, who led San Jose with 37 goals and 73 points in the regular season, picked the perfect time to end his playoff scoring drought with a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s win. He got the Sharks on the board early in the second period, after they had fallen behind 4-0.

The improbable comeback continued as they outscored the Kings 5-1 from that point on, including the game winner by Devin Setoquchi a little over three minutes into overtime.

This was only the fourth time in NHL playoff history that a team overcame a four-goal deficit to win the game.

San Jose pulled goalie Antti Niemi early in the second period after giving up four goals in the first 10 shots he faced. Antero Nittymaki came in to stop 11 of 12 shots, but it was the Sharks’ defense that put the clamps on the Kings who were basically shutdown from that point on.

Los Angeles is now left to pick up the pieces after blowing a golden opportunity to gain the edge in this series. You can hardly blame the offense after three-goal first period put the Kings squarely in control of Game 3. Brad Richardson did his part with a goal and an assist and Ryan Smyth’s first goal of these playoffs put them up 5-3 midway in the second, but they had no answer for San Jose’s relentless attack.

Jonathan Quick lasted the whole game in net for Los Angeles but was less than stellar with a .833 save percentage. He basically collapsed under the pressure in the second period; giving up five goals on 18 shots. He went on stop all nine shots he faced in the third, but the damage was done.

It appears that Niemi and Quick will both be back in goal for Thursday night’s game, but this has yet to be confirmed. Both teams came out of Game 3 injury free with the exception of a few minor bumps and bruises that will not keep anyone out of the lineup.

San Jose is 36-22 as a favorite this season and 13-12 as an underdog. Los Angeles is 29-22 as a favorite and 17-15 as an underdog this year. Head-to-head, these teams split their six regular season games in the regular season, each winning two of three at home. The total is 5-3-1 'over' in the last nine meetings and 1-1-1 in this series.

The Sharks opened as a slight 125 road favorite and remain a solid pick in this game after all the momentum in this series has now swung back into their favor.

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