SAN JOSE — Greetings from HP Pavilion, where the Sharks and Kings are preparing for Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series Tuesday night.
The Kings went back to Los Angeles after the 2-1 overtime loss on Saturday that narrowed their series lead to 2-1, but they returned to San Jose on Monday night.
The two-day break in the series gave players on both sides a welcome chance to heal some of the bumps and bruises they’ve accumulated in the first three games. Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said center Logan Couture, who appeared to injure his leg during Saturday’s game but came back to score the winner, “looked good” in the morning skate and will be ready to go. However, winger Martin Havlat has been ruled out because of a lower-body injury.
McLellan said he was still toying with the idea of playing seven defensemen and 11 forwards and using defenseman Jason Demers as a kind of swingman who could also play up front.
Tommy Wingels, one of the Sharks’ most physical forwards, said that with the top two lines of each team almost canceling each other out, the bottom-six forwards must contribute offensively. There is, he reminded reporters, one big obstacle: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has a postseason-leading 1.60 goals-against average and a second-ranked .947 save percentage in nine games.
“We’re trying,” said Wingels, who is expected to play on the third line with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard. “Quick’s playing well but we are getting our chances and that’s what you want as a line. The top two lines are battling pretty hard, so it might come down to the third and fourth lines chipping in, either on our side or their side. Then you just try to affect the game in a positive way.”
He also said he didn’t expect Quick to still be emotional after Quick unleashed a tirade at the on-ice officials at the end of Game 3 on Saturday.
“There’s frustration there. When you lose a game you’re frustrated,” Wingels said. “You put so much effort in. When you don’t get the success you want, for whatever reasons, you become frustrated. I’m sure that was the case for him.
“With the competitive guy he is, I’m sure he’s champing at the bit to get the game started tonight and get the chance to get the win again. I’m sure he’ll be ready.”
Check back later for news from the Kings’ morning skate.