Drama and intrigue were limited to one end of the hall at Staples Center on Monday before Game 6 of the Kings-Sharks playoff series.
The Sharks’ top defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper-body injury), is out for Game 6, and goalie Alex Stalock, will be making his first career playoff start, replacing Antti Niemi. The Sharks lead the series, three games to two.
Niemi was the Sharks’ starting goalie for the first five games of the series but was pulled in the last two games, both victories by the Kings.
Both moves weren’t entirely a surprise. Vlasic was injured late in the first period on Saturday, a result of a hit from Kings center Jarret Stoll. Sharks Coach Todd McLellan did not have a timeline regarding Vlasic’s availability.
“Well, it's a loss to our hockey club, but it's one we can overcome,” McLellan said. “Good teams that have opportunities to win and move on overcome adversity and this is one of those situations…. It’s not about the one you lose, it’s about the collective group as a whole that has to pull together. We can overcome that loss.”
Stalock might be making his first start in the playoffs, but he did receive plenty of playing time in Game 5, taking over for Niemi in the first minute of the second period on Saturday.
“It’s a chance to obviously close out the series and that’s the ultimate goal,” Stalock said. “It’s a little different than we thought it was going to play out with the goal-scoring and the offense. And we’ve talked, it’s going to get back to [like] the games we played during the year. Ultimately, we know how they’re going to play.”
Said Kings forward Justin Williams: “We are who we are. We need to be the same team that we know we can be. We’ve stopped them from sending us home twice and we need to do it two more times.”
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times