The first round, best-of-seven Western Conference playoff matchup between the No. 3 seed San Jose Sharks and the No.6 seed Los Angeles Kings shifts to Staples Center for Game 3 on Tuesday night with the series knotted at one game apiece. The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on VERSUS.
San Jose opened this series with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory last Thursday night as a 198 home favorite, but was shut out 4-0 as a 187 home favorite in Saturday’s Game 2.
The Sharks drew first-blood in Game 1 by scoring a goal just 28 seconds into the first period. They regained a 2-1 lead midway through the second, but needed a Joe Pavelski wrist shot around 15 minutes into overtime to seal the win.
Game 2 turned ugly from the beginning as San Jose gave up two first period goals and was unable to find the back of the net all game long.
The first game was a ‘push’ against a total line of five and Game 2 stayed ‘under’ the total line of five.
Ryane Clowe was fourth in goals with 24 and fifth in total points with 62 for the Sharks in the regular season, but so far he has led the way in the playoffs with three assists. Dany Heatley, Logan Couture and Pavelski each have a goal, but Patrick Marleau, who led the team with 37 goals and 73 points, has been held scoreless.
Antti Niemi started 60 games in goal for San Jose in the regular season and had a goals-against-average of 2.38 with a .920 save percentage. He stopped 33 of 35 shots in Game 1 but gave up four goals on just 23 shots in Saturday’s loss for a save percentage of just .897 in this series so far.
The Sharks could be without defenseman Ian White for this game after taking a shot to the head in Thursday’s game. He is listed as probable on the Don Best Sports injury report.
Los Angeles finished the regular season ranked 25th in the league in scoring with 2.55 goals a game. While the Kings were held to two goals in the first game, their offense came to life in the second with four unanswered goals. The Kings did it without center Jarret Stoll, who was suspended for a game after his hit on White.
Los Angeles has been without their leading scorer Anze Kopitar since late March after he tore ligaments in his knee, but defenseman Drew Doughty has provided the unlikely firepower in his absence with two goals and two assists in the first two games. Justin Williams, Jack Johnson and Kyle Clifford each have a goal and an assist for the Kings.
Jonathan Quick stopped 42 of 45 shots in Thursday’s loss but was perfect in Game 2 with 34 saves. He had a 2.24 GGA and a save percentage of .918 in 60 regular season starts for Los Angeles, but has elevated his game in the postseason with a rock-solid .962 save percentage through the first two games.
San Jose is 35-22 as a favorite this season and 13-12 as an underdog. The total has stayed ‘under’ in two of its last three games. Los Angeles is 29-22 as a favorite and 17-14 as an underdog this year. The total has stayed ‘under’ in three of its last four games.
Head-to-head, these teams split their six regular season games this season with each winning two of three at home. The total is 4-3-1 in the last eight meetings.
This time around the Kings should open as a slight favorite, but stick with San Jose to regain the edge in this series as its offense bounces back from Saturday’s performance.