(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings will try to keep their title defense alive Tuesday when they host the San Jose Sharks in a decisive Game 7 battle at Staples Center.
When the Kings won their first Stanley Cup title a year ago they recorded a 16-4 mark in the postseason and only went past five games once. That was in the Stanley Cup Finals where L.A. needed six games to defeat the New Jersey Devils.
The Sharks and Kings arrived at this meeting because the home team has won every game so far in the Western Conference semifinals. Los Angeles claimed Games 1, 2 and 5, while San Jose grabbed Games 3 and 4 at the Shark Tank before tying the series at 3-3 with a 2-1 home victory on Sunday.
Antti Niemi stopped 24-of-25 shots for the sixth-seeded Sharks in Game 6 and added an assist on T.J. Galiardi's eventual game-winning goal in the second period. Joe Thornton delivered a power-play goal early in the first period for San Jose, now 5-0 on home ice during this postseason.
"It's followed the script. Home team wins back and forth," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "It's time for us to get there and try to change the story."
However, the fifth-seeded Kings are 6-0 on home ice in the playoffs and have claimed 13 straight in L.A. since their last setback at the Staples Center on March 23 against Vancouver.
The Kings hope home ice will help them get off to a better start than they did Sunday in San Jose. Los Angeles took three penalties in the opening five minutes, including infractions from Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar 14 seconds apart that gave a Sharks' power play that's been lethal at home all throughout these playoffs, a lengthy 5-on-3 situation.
"It's not good when your two centermen are sitting in those seats looking at you," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said.
San Jose capitalized on the two-man advantage, with Thornton depositing a crisp centering feed from Joe Pavelski into an open right side with 6:09 elapsed in the contest.
The Sharks have converted 10-of-29 power-play opportunities (34.5 percent) at home during the postseason, compared to a 1-of-19 success rate on the road.
Dustin Brown potted the lone goal for Los Angeles in Sunday's loss and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in defeat.
The Sharks are 5-2 all-time in Game 7s and they won the last time they were in this situation, beating Detroit in San Jose during the 2011 conference semifinals.
Los Angeles is 3-4 in Game 7s and the last time the franchise played in one was in 2002 when Colorado posted a 4-0 win to take the opening-round series.
Quick has never played in a Game 7, while Niemi is 1-0 after helping the Sharks beat the Red Wings in their decisive clash in 2011.
This marks just the second postseason meeting between these two Pacific Division rivals. The Sharks got the best of the Kings in six games during the 2011 conference quarterfinals.