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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 30th (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (3-3) at San Jose Sharks (3-3), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After trailing three games to none, the Los Angeles Kings will try to make NHL history on Wednesday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks for Game 7 at SAP Center.
The Kings will attempt to become only the fourth team in league annals to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers are the only clubs to have pulled off the monumental comeback.
Even getting to tonight's decisive contest is an achievement worth noting, as Los Angeles is only the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in a series.
Los Angeles does have a few players on its roster that were part of a 3-0 playoff comeback. Kings forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were both members of the 2010 Flyers team that stormed back to beat Boston in the conference semifinals after losing the first three games. Carter, however, missed that historic series with a broken foot before returning later in the playoffs to help Philadelphia make a surprise run to the Cup Finals.
Wednesday's decisive battle also marks the second Game 7 between the Kings and Sharks in as many years. L.A. notched a 2-1 home win over San Jose last spring to win the Western Conference semifinal series. The victory improved the Kings to 4-4 all-time in Game 7s, while San Jose fell to 5-3.
One thing the Sharks have going in their favor tonight is the recent history between the clubs in San Jose. The Kings' win at SAP Center on Saturday was only their second victory in the last 14 road encounters with the Sharks.
San Jose scored 17 times over the first three games of this series to take a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead. However, the Kings have outscored the Sharks by a combined 13-4 margin en route to winning the last three encounters. L.A. claimed Game 4 at home by a 6-3 count, then notched a 3-0 win Saturday in San Jose before claiming a 4-1 decision in Monday's meeting at Staples Center.
Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar each scored twice to help the Kings stay alive on Monday in their final home test of this series. Jonathan Quick also stopped 25 shots to anchor the 4-1 victory.
However, the most recent win by the Kings did come with a bit of controversy.
Monday's Game 6 was tied 1-1 with just over eight minutes left before Williams netted his second of the night, digging the puck free from under the pads of San Jose goaltender Alex Stalock, who made his first start of the series in place of Antti Niemi.
Stalock appeared to have the puck smothered under his pads, but Williams used his stick to push the goaltender backward and dislodge the disc, which squirted across the goal line to give L.A. a 2-1 lead at 11:56.
The Sharks argued the call, citing that Stalock had the puck covered long enough to induce a whistle, but after a brief huddle, the referees deemed the play unreviewable and the goal stood.
"We got cheated. Simple as that," San Jose head coach Todd McLellan said. "I was told that you could see the puck laying behind (Stalock's) feet the whole time. That is why the whistle didn't go. It's pretty clear when you look at it after. That was obviously the turning point."
Kopitar potted a pair of goals 75 seconds apart shortly after and Quick kept the Sharks off the board the rest of the way.
"We have been through a lot together and we want to be a team that came back all the way and we want to be the team that says they forced a Game 7," Williams said. "We were able to win it and gave ourselves a chance."
James Sheppard supplied San Jose's lone goal, while Stalock allowed four goals on 30 shots in the setback. Stalock received the starting nod after Niemi was chased from Games 4 and 5, giving up eight goals on 45 shots in back-to-back losses for the Sharks.
McLellan wouldn't reveal his starter for Game 7, but said he told both netminders to be ready for tonight's contest. Niemi is 1-1 with a 2.03 goals against average in two career Game 7s, while Stalock has never played in this situation.
The Sharks played Monday without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was sidelined after sustaining an upper-body injury in Game 5. Matt Irwin replaced Vlasic in the lineup and is expected to get the call again in Game 7.
04/30 10:39:36 ET