The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks have played what they call a "homer" series in the Western Conference Semifinals. The home team has won each of the first five games.The Kings need to break the cycle in Sunday night's Game 6 to win the series, while the Sharks must keep it going on Sunday, then break it themselves in Game 7 on Tuesday night to win the series.
Game 5 was simply textbook for Los Angeles and how they want to win hockey games. They had timely goals from two of their stars (Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter) and a key goal from an unexpected contributor (Slava Voynov, though that's becoming less and less unexpected). The defense was stingy, limiting San Jose to just 24 shots. Whatever shots the Sharks did get on goal, Jonathan Quick stopped. He and his team made it look easy on Thursday night.
Still, the Kings have only won one game on the road this postseason, losing four of their first five away from Staples Center in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That will have to change if they want to get out of this series on Sunday night. Of course, they're also 6-0 at home in the playoffs, so a Game 7 wouldn't be an absolute panic moment for Los Angeles. That said, it might be best to just get out alive while you can. This has been a rough series.
Will the Sharks respond to being shutout again?
The last time San Jose was shutout by Jonathan Quick, in Game 1, the Sharks responded by beating him three times in Game 2. That was a game they probably should have won. Three goals has been enough to win every game of this series besides Game 2, so that kind of response would be awfully huge for the Sharks tonight. They must put some pucks in the net not only to win Game 6, but to put some doubt in the Kings' minds for what would be a Game 7.
Can Joe Pavelski find his scoring touch again?
The story for the Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks was the scoring prowess of Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. While Couture has continued to pot goals in round two, Pavelski has gone dry. He has yet to beat Jonathan Quick in this series. San Jose needs all hands on deck in Game 6, especially Pavelski, who was such a huge factor for them in round one.
Is Slava Voynov going to continue his excellent playoffs?
Until Torey Krug came along and went ahead capturing all of our hearts (outside New York), only Johnny Boychuk had as many goals as Voynov does among defensemen. He scored his fourth of the postseason in Game 6. While he's not exactly Bryce Salvador from 2012 in terms of unexpected production from the blue line, he's still been a very pleasant surprise contributor for the Kings. If you want to repeat, it's likely someone who wasn't a big factor in the first run will have to be one during the second. Voynov has been that guy so far.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN