Jim Neveau, NHL Correspondent
Before we get to the keys for both teams going into Game 6 of this series, it would behoove us to go over the stars that made Game 5 what it was.
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick
Even though there were strong performances turned in by guys like Willie Mitchell (six blocked shots), Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds (a goal and assist each), but without question the Kings’ biggest stud in this one was goaltender Jonathan Quick. After giving up a slew of goals in the previous two games at Staples Center, Quick turned things around in a big hurry on Saturday night, stopping 51 shots and helping Los Angeles’ lead hold up through a barrage of shots.
San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau
Lots of players for San Jose tried to be offensive catalysts in this game, but out of all of those Marleau’s effort stood out. He scored the Sharks’ only goal, and he put nine shots on net in the game. It wasn’t enough to get San Jose the victory, but Marleau is just about the only guy to stick out on this side of the ledger.
Keys to Game Six:
Sharks Have to Convert on the Power Play
So far in this series, the Sharks are an abysmal 2-for-20 on the man-advantage in this series, and in their two losses they are a combined 0-for-9. They were the 2nd ranked power play unit in the league during the regular season, but their inability to capitalize on Los Angeles’ mistakes in this series has allowed the Kings to hang around.
Speaking of Power Play Ineptitude…..
The Kings looked really solid on the man-advantage in the first two games of this series, converting on three of their nine chances. That ability to take advantage of Sharks’ miscues has vanished in the last three contests for the Kings, as they have gone 0-for-11 in those games. They need to get more traffic in front of the San Jose net and do less passing around the perimeter in those situations.
Antti Niemi Needs to Step Up
The Sharks were put behind the eight-ball early in Game 5, as Antti Niemi gave up three goals on only four shots in the first period. It was a horrendous effort, and it was the play of Antero Niitymaki that kept San Jose in the game. If the Sharks want to put this series away on Monday night, they are going to need a much better effort from the guy they are relying upon as their goaltender of the future.
Crowd Noise a Key For Los Angeles
The Kings would be well-advised to jump out to an early lead if they possibly can. After a poor showing on Saturday, the Sharks will be looking to set the tone early in terms of tempo and physicality, but if the Kings can take that punch and come back with a good counter, this series will be headed back to HP Pavilion.