LOS ANGELES – The Sharks’ lineup for Game 2 will remain the same, but the Kings will be making two possible alterations headed into the crucial matchup on Saturday at Staples Center, as San Jose attempts to take a commanding two-games-to-none lead on its chief rival.
Alec Martinez is almost certainly out on the blue line after he left in the second period of Game 1 and did not return. He didn’t skate on Saturday, and didn’t even have a locker stall in the Kings’ dressing room anymore.
That means Jamie McBain, who has 345 games of NHL experience, will suit up for his first career playoff game. He had nine points (2g, 7a) in 44 games this season.
“It’s the time of year you want to play and time of the year you want to be called upon, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” McBain said.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter emphatically pounded the podium when it was relayed to him that McBain was excited.
“Man, I would be too,” Sutter said. “If the coach was telling me I wasn’t dressing for half the games this year, and then he told me I was for the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and you said all year, ‘stay ready,’ … He might be a really good player in the playoffs for us, I would think that we’d all be really excited, so I would hope that he is.”
Marian Gaborik could make his return for the game, too, after taking shifts on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic in the morning. Sutter indicated the veteran forward would be a game-time decision after warmups.
The 34-year-old Gaborik, who had 12 goals and 10 assists in 54 games, has been out since Feb. 12 with a knee injury.
“We knew he was close. We anticipated we’d see him in the series,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “World-class player, a lot of speed. We’re aware of it, but it doesn’t change our game plan.”
Brent Burns was teammates with Gaborik in Minnesota for five seasons.
“He’s going to add that dimension wide for them,” Burns said. “He’s a finisher, so we’ve got to watch him.”
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Sharks veteran Patrick Marleau had a linemate for Game 1 that he hadn’t seen in awhile in Matt Nieto, who missed the final 12 games of the regular season.
Marleau, Nieto and Melker Karlsson are all speedy players, and early in the game seemed to be taking advantage of matching up against the Kings’ third line of Vinny Lecavalier, Dwight King and Kris Versteeg – not a trio known for being all that fleet afoot.
The Sharks’ third liners couldn’t produce an even strength goal, though, despite some good looks at the net, including a Karlsson chance with 11 minutes left in the second period on a dish from Marleau that Jonathan Quick stopped with the end of his left pad.
“Able to get some pretty good looks and chances that didn’t go in,” Marleau said. “Those will come. … You get those chances you want to put them in the back of the net. We didn’t need it last game, but we’ll need them going forward.”
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At the top of the list of things the Sharks could improve upon for Game 2 would be their start. The Kings pushed the pace early and got the first goal, and won 12 of 18 faceoffs in the opening frame.
Both coaches, of course, expressed that their teams could turn it up a notch from Thursday.
“We’re smart enough to know they’re going to be better tonight. I think we have another level,” DeBoer said. “I was happy we won. I liked some of the things we did. I also think we can play better, too, and I think we’re going to have to tonight.”
Sutter said: “There are areas that we can be better at, and there are areas that we were really good at, so it’s a very fine line.”