San Jose at Los Angeles
When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, May 23, 2013
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks were one goal away from being in a 3-0 hole in their Western Conference second-round series. Thanks to Logan Couture, they have a chance to take a 3-2 lead when they visit the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Kings for Game 5 on Thursday. San Jose dropped the first two games of its matchup with its Pacific Division rival on the road and found itself in overtime in Game 3 at home on Saturday.
Couture helped the Sharks avoid the nearly insurmountable series deficit by scoring a power-play goal at 1:29 of the extra session. The center came up big again in Game 4 on Tuesday, deflecting defenseman Dan Boyle's slap shot past Jonathan Quick during a man advantage at 3:55 of the second period to give San Jose a 2-0 lead. The tally, Couture's fifth of the postseason to tie him with Patrick Marleau for the team lead, proved to be the game-winner as Los Angeles' Mike Richards converted a power-play opportunity midway through the third. The Kings have won 12 consecutive home games, including all five in the playoffs, while the Sharks are 2-2 on the road this postseason.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS
ABOUT THE SHARKS: Joe Thornton was instrumental in giving San Jose an early lead in Game 4. The captain chased down a dump-in and outwitted Los Angeles' Slava Voynov to gain possession behind the net by lifting the defenseman's stick. After feeding Brent Burns for a shot that was blocked, Thornton regained control and made another pass to Burns, who converted at 6:09 of the first period. "He was really good in the first period," Boyle told the San Jose Mercury News. "I think that was our team's best period, and he was dominant out there in the first. There's only so much other teams can do against a guy like that when he's playing that way." The Sharks have rallied three times in their history to tie a playoff series after losing the first two contests, but they have been eliminated in six games on all three occasions.
ABOUT THE KINGS: Defenseman Matt Greene made his postseason debut Tuesday, registering one shot and blocking two in 14:08 of ice time. Greene had not played since suffering a lower-body injury against Detroit on April 24 and appeared in only five regular-season contests due to back surgery. "I'm just trying to get back up to speed with the guys," Greene told the Los Angeles Times. Captain Dustin Brown believes Greene already is there. "He was probably, I think, our most physical defenseman," Brown told the Times after Game 4. Greene tied Drew Doughty for the team lead among defensemen with four hits on Tuesday. Los Angeles is 6-4 this postseason after going 16-4 en route to its first Stanley Cup championship last year.
1. All five of Couture's goals this postseason have come on the power play, a category in which he leads the NHL. He also is tied with Voynov for the league lead with three game-winning tallies.
2. The Kings were outshot 15-3 in the first period on Tuesday and trailed 21-9 after 40 minutes before having a 14-2 advantage in the third session.
3. Five of San Jose's six all-time playoff victories over Los Angeles have been one-goal decisions.
PREDICTION: Kings 3, Sharks 1
Stats and Records