Programming note: Kings-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7pm with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.
SAN JOSE – Don’t panic.
That was coach Pete DeBoer’s message on Wednesday morning, and the chief reason he apparently won’t make any changes to his lines or lineup for Wednesday night’s crucial Game 4. The Sharks lost on Monday, 2-1 in overtime, to allow the Kings back into the first round series.
“We have all those options – new guys in, new guys out, different combinations. I also don’t want to panic,” DeBoer said.
“We’re one shot away last game from being up 3-0 in this series. We’re in a good spot. I like where we’re at, and we’ve got all those options available, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on any of that stuff yet.”
Chris Tierney, the fourth line center, pointed out that the Sharks had a scoring chance that was nearly as dangerous as Tanner Pearson’s goal earlier in overtime. Jonathan Quick stopped Joonas Donskoi’s wrist shot, though, and Pearson put the game away for Los Angeles shortly after.
“It happened to be one shot in overtime. It could have been either way – Donskoi had a great look before that could have easily been the game winner, too,” Tierney said. “Obviously we didn’t play our best game. … I think there’s a lot of confidence in this group that if we get back to the way we can play and really ramp it up, we should be OK this game.”
The fourth line in particular was in focus after Game 3, as Tommy Wingels, Nick Spaling and Tierney all took minor penalties. It was the second straight game that line put the team shorthanded three times. They didn’t see hardly any ice time after the second period, taking just a single third period shift as a unit, leading to speculation that Dainius Zubrus could make his series debut. That won't happen.
The Sharks would like to get more from all of his forwards after the top line, as the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski-Tomas Hertl trio has been driving the bus. They'll all get another chance on Wednesday.
“This isn’t on the fourth line,” DeBoer said. “The fourth line is taking too many minor penalties, that’s something they need to fix, but we need more out of the depth of our lineup and that includes the [other lines].”
Tierney said: “I think we’re looking to have kind of a bounce-back game, get our feet moving, and get some o-zone time.”
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Dustin Brown has been among the more physical players in the series, including in Game 3 when he plowed over Donskoi to help generate Pearson’s score.
Brown was credited with eight hits in Game 3, and has a series-leading 20 total. Just before the end of regulation he drilled Tomas Hertl, too, and he may have very well been in the minds of some Sharks players before the overtime marker.
“It’s a part of our game and what gives us success, so we want to keep getting in on the forecheck and keep finishing our checks,” Milan Lucic said. “It paid off for us on the winning goal last game. When Brownie is doing things like that, that’s when he’s helping our the team the best. Just got to keep up that physical play, and you hope that it keeps giving you some kind of success.”
Brenden Dillon, who was trying to lay a body on Brown just before Pearson took control of the puck, indicated there are plenty of subtle shots, too, being exchanged by players on both sides that aren’t necessarily spotted by the referees or cameras.
“There’s stuff going on right in between benches, too,” Dillon said. “Right when you’re going for a change there’s going to be cross-checks, slashes. I’d be guilty if I said I wasn’t doing it myself. I think that’s what a playoff series is going to bring, that stuff after the whistle.”
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Among the Kings’ 27 blocked shots in Game 3, 10 of them came on Brent Burns, who was held off of the scoresheet for the first time. That’s a big part of the reason the Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play, as six of the Burns blocks came with the Kings shorthanded.
Of his 19 total shot attempts, Burns got five on net while another four missed.
“I think with Burnzie, he’s going to shoot no matter what. There’s going to be nights where they’re going to block them,” DeBoer said.
“For him, it’s not a selection thing. He missed some shots, or didn’t put them in the places he wanted them to go. I think he’s concentrating more on his placement, but we knew there was a commitment by them all over the ice to block more shots than they did in games one and two. We saw that. Our commitment has been there the whole series to do that. It’s that time of year.”