SAN JOSE – They didn't manage to score a goal, but the Sharks’ line of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and TJ Galiardi did something else that ended up being just as important in the Sharks' 2-1 win on Saturday night.
They kept the Kings’ most dangerous line through the first two games off of the scoresheet.
[RECAP: Sharks respond in Game 3]
Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, specifically, had two very effective games for Los Angeles in the Kings’ two wins at Staples Center. Each entered Game 3 with a goal and two assists, leading all scorers on both sides. The pair had a hand in each of the three even strength goals by Los Angeles.
In Game 3, along with winger Dwight King, they were nullified, and spent much of their ice time in the defensive zone thanks to the effectiveness of the Thornton line. Although that matchup happened frequently in the first two games, Todd McLellan utilized it just about every chance he got on Saturday night, enjoying the luxury of having the last change on home ice. In fact, he liked it so much that even when the Sharks were down two forwards in Logan Couture and Marty Havlat in the second period, he kept that threesome together.
Galiardi was asked if his line is winning that matchup.
“I mean, if you look at it, I think we’re in their zone every time. I don’t remember being in our zone the whole series, so I’d say so. We just have to score now.”
Burns put together one of the most complete stat lines of the night in his 16 minutes and three seconds of ice time. The converted forward had a total of 12 shot attempts at the net, three of which got through and seven of which were blocked (two more missed). He also threw three hits, and was a force on the forecheck.
He enjoys the challenge of playing against the former Philadelphia Flyers buddies who were a huge part of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship last spring.
“I think Richie is really good defensively and a tenacious player. Carter, if you give him any space, he’s going to capitalize,” Burns said. “It’s fun to play against a line like that.”
“I feel our line is playing really well. But, I think they’re a great line too. The Richards line with Carter and whoever else plays with them, obviously those two guys are great players. I feel our line is playing some of our best hockey.”
McLellan talked about that matchup on Sunday.
“Richards and Carter, and King, have been huge factors in their success so far,” he said. “They seem to get on the scoreboard every night. Last night was the first night they didn’t get there, and it made a one-goal difference. Pretty evenly matched lines. An intensity that all six players show up with is something both coaches are looking for, I’m sure.”
As for Burns, he is a "big, big man, and a big load to handle. When he plays with that bull in a China shop mentality, he’s hard to handle.”
The next step, of course, would be to put one in the net. Thornton has two assists in the series, one on the power play, while Galiardi and Burns are still looking for their first points. With Havlat unavailable for Game 4 and probably the rest of the series, and Raffi Torres suspended, it's a strong likelihood that they'll have to outscore whichever line they go up against if the Sharks want to advance to the Western Conference final.
[Related: Game 3 Thins Sharks Bench]
Galiardi likened it to “an old glass ketchup bottle. Keep banging on it.”
“Quick has been playing great, but you look at it last night we had so many where it was like an inch away,” he said.
Burns said: “I think it’s a good matchup for some entertaining hockey.”