The good news for the Kings? They survived an intense series against a high-scoring, playoff-tested California team. The bad news? Now they have to do it all over again.
San Jose is in the Kings' rear-view mirror, the Sharks having been dispatched in shocking fashion after the Kings rallied from a 3-0 series deficit and won Game 7 on Wednesday. The Kings took Thursday off, and now will look to the Ducks and a second-round matchup that starts Saturday at Honda Center.
They won't have to look too long or hard. Not only are the Kings familiar with the Ducks, their NHL neighbors and division rivals, but the Ducks bear a certain on-ice resemblance to the Sharks.
"We know our opponent," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Thursday. "We have a lot of respect for them and we know it's going to be a tougher series than the one we just played."
During the regular season, both the Ducks and Sharks had four players with at least 20 goals and 10 players with at least 10 goals. Corey Perry led the Ducks with 43 goals, followed by Ryan Getzlaf with 31.
The Ducks were first in the NHL this season in goals per game (3.21) and eighth in shots per game (31.3). The Sharks were sixth in goals per game (2.92) and first in shots per game (34.8).
After their brutal start to the series, the Kings held the Sharks to five goals in the last four games.
How will that translate to this series? The Kings and Ducks met five times during the regular season. Each team won once in a shootout and the Ducks won three times in regulation, but the Ducks scored only 12 regulation goals in five games. That suggests the Kings can play the type of low-scoring games they prefer.
"We have a great goaltender," center Jarret Stoll said. "Our defense can play various types of games. They can play the skilled game, and they can shut you down. You see what happened in this series against San Jose, in the last three or four games. It was pretty special what our defense and goaltender did."
The Kings' off-ice challenge is to avoid a letdown. On Wednesday, they became only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing, 3-0. They had one day to celebrate and rest. When they return to action Saturday, will they retain momentum from the first round, or will they be emotionally spent?
"Obviously you put a little winning streak together here and you kind of have that swagger a little bit, but every game is a new story," Stoll said. "It's sometimes hard to be very, very consistent like that, but obviously you have to. If we don't play our game, we'll get beat in Game 1 and that's just the way it is."
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