Kings coach Darryl Sutter was bound and determined to shake things up for what loomed as a pivotal Game 5 of their second-round playoff series Thursday against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. How much actual shaking remained to be seen, however.
For starters, hard-nosed left winger Kyle Clifford was expected to move from a checking line to a skilled line to join center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams. Team captain Dustin Brown appeared to be shifted to a checking line to join center Trevor Lewis and left wing Dwight King.
Winger Dustin Penner was set to play with center Mike Richards and winger Jeff Carter.
“Every game is desperate this time of year, but Game 5 is a pivotal game in a long series,” Brown said of trying to break a two-victories-apiece deadlock in the best-of-7 series. “You look at the last series, we squeaked one out in St. Louis and it just brings momentum.
“You have that mental edge going into Game 6. We’re on home ice. It’s important for us to prepare to do the right things to give us a chance to win. … Probably the biggest difference (in Sutter’s new line combinations) is me playing on the right side.”
The Kings won Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center, but then dropped the next two by matching scores of 2-1 at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Game 6 is Sunday in San Jose. Game 7, if necessary, would be played Tuesday at Staples Center.
The Kings were 5-0 at home in the playoffs going into Game 5, but only 1-4 on the road.