Fourth Line Plays Key Role As Sharks Force Game 7

SAN JOSE- For the third consecutive home game, the San Jose Sharks knocked off the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 2-1. Sunday’s Game 6 victory pushes the series back to LA for Game 7 where the Kings have won all three of their home games thus far in the series.

It sounds simple, that the home team wins every game but Game 7’s can be a different deal and few Kings have any Game 7 experience. San Jose on the other hand has plenty of it via guys like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Scott Gomez, Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, and Joe Pavelski just to name a few.

Going on the road into a Game 7 might fit the Sharks well. They certainly have seemed to play better with little expected of them this season and the defending Stanley Cup champions should win a Game 7 on home ice, right?

The Kings will obviously be favored to win with the home ice advantage but little things can change games and as the saying goes “anything can happen in a Game 7.”

One of those little things that worked in the favor of San Jose in Sunday’s Game 6 was the performance of their “fourth” line. I’ve been admittedly harsh on Sharks winger Adam Burish all season, but the veteran forward and his linemates Bracken Kearns and Andrew Desjardins had a whale of a game.

The three man unit forced Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter to burn his timeout late in the second period with a great hard working shift. Los Angeles had to ice the puck with Burish, Desjardins and Kearns hemming the Kings in their own zone. Since LA couldn’t get a fresh line out there for the face-off Sutter had little choice but to use his only timeout.

“Unreal” commented T.J. Galiardi about the fourth line’s performance. “The dynamic that [Burish] brings when he’s playing on that fourth line is huge.”

“They did great” added defenseman Justin Braun. “Kearnsie is out there battling getting some scoring chances, some [wraparounds], they were playing physical and skating, that’s what we need from them.”

With Burish back in the fold after missing the first five games of the series, the Sharks fourth line featured three guys with size and physical play. They aren’t as big as the St. Louis line that gave LA fits in the first round but a good physical, defensively responsible fourth line.

Burish, a ninth round draft choice back in 2003 talked after Game 6 about playing with two rather unknowns in Kearns and Desjardins, both of whom have been playing great in this series.

“They both have cool stories. They were fun to play with tonight, I give them a lot of credit for the way our line played. Those guys were all over pucks, they did a heck of a job, they were creating, they were hard to play against, those two guys were great tonight. They’re gaining the coaches trust as the series goes on.”

Not often do you see a fourth line taking shifts late in the third period of a one goal game in the regular season, much less the playoffs, but the trio was out for a shift with under five minutes remaining in the final period on Sunday.

“Everybody’s important” commented Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “It was hard for that line to get involved in the game early because of all the penalties. They sat there and were a little bit cold but I thought [Burish] did a good job coming back in and settling things down and Desi and Kearsy played a good hard game.”

If San Jose is to be the only road team to win in this series and move on to the Western Conference final, they’ll need more of the same from their fourth liners.

 

For more on the Sharks follow Andrew on twitter @ViewFromBensch

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