The San Jose Sharks took a commanding three-games-to-none lead in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Kings, but now find themselves needing to win Game 7 on Thursday to move on to the second round.
“We certainly didn’t want to go away quiet,” Kings forward Azne Kopitar said. “We’re only thinking about one more step now. We’re going to have to play our best game of the series up there.”
But should we be surprised the Kings are still very much alive in this series? Ignoring special teams and lead-protecting situations, the Kings outshot opponents 1273-995 (56.1 percent shot percentage) during the regular season. Of the teams that led the league in this fashion since the 2008 playoffs, only the Pittsburgh Penguins (2012) got knocked out in the first round.
|2008||Detroit||59.3||Won Stanley Cup|
|2009||Detroit||57.7||Lost in Finals|
|2010||Chicago||57.9||Won Stanley Cup|
|2011||Tampa Bay||54.4||Lost in Conference Finals to eventual Cup winner|
|2012||Pittsburgh||56.0||Lost in First Round|
|2013||Los Angeles||56.4||Lost in Conference Finals to eventual Cup winner|
It won’t be easy, though.
Kings become 9th team in NHL history to force a 7th game after falling behind 3-0 in the series. Only 3 have ever come back all the way.
— Eric Duhatschek (@eduhatschek) April 29, 2014
“I don’t really know what difference it makes if you’re down three or up three,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s still about the fourth game. When you’ve got two clubs with some experience at playoff time, it’s still about closing it out.”