The Los Angeles Kings look to be the fourth team in NHL history to comeback from a 3-0 series deficit and take their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks in Wednesday night’s Game Seven at the SAP Center.
However, the Sharks have been in this position before, losing three straight to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals back in 2011 only to prevail 3-2 in the final game. Whoever prevails will face the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.
Much of the Kings early deficit can be attributed to goaltender Jonathan Quick surrendering an uncharacteristic 16 goals in the first three games of the series. But Quick’s rebounded in the last three games allowing four total goals with a .957 save percentage. Quick was the focal point of a Kings defense that ranked first in the NHL in goals allowed per game, and 11th in penalty kill at 83.1 percent.
The Kings offense has also upped its output, most recently with two goals apiece from forwards Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar in Game Six’s 4-1 victory that forced the deciding game.
Kopitar leads L.A. with eight points to start the postseason, but he failed to score his first goal of the series until Game Five. Williams hadn’t recorded a point until Game Four’s 6-3 victory, and he’s scored all four of his playoff goals in the last three games.
The Sharks hoped to counter L.A.’s resurgence by inserting rookie goalie Alex Stalock into the starting lineup over five-year veteran Antti Niemi in Game Six, but the switch had no effect on the Kings.
For now it’s unclear if San Jose head coach Todd McLellan will start Stalock again or go back to Niemi, and there are no updates on the status of top defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who sat out Game Six with an upper body injury. During the regular season, Vlasic led the Sharks with a plus-minus of plus 31.
Should Vlasic sit out again, the Sharks will rely on defenseman Justin Bruan and Brad Stuart, each with a plus-minus of plus-three in the series, and they’ll need big games from leading playmakers Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau.
First on the team with 41 goals during the regular season, Pavelski’s come up with two goals in the last five games while Marleau’s cooled off from his hot start with three goals in the first three games, to no scores and two assists in the last three.
Veteran Sharks center and top playmaker Joe Thornton has also been neutralized. The 15-year veteran was second in the NHL with 65 assists in the regular season, but his last assist came in Game Three.
Start Time: 10 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream Info: A live online stream can be viewed at NBC Live Extra
Betting Odds: San Jose -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: San Jose over L.A. 4-2