Dustin Penner stays in, Alexei Ponikarovsky out for Kings in Game 5
Greetings from San Jose, where the Sharks had their full team on the ice for the morning skate at HP Pavilion but the Kings’ session remained optional. What matters most is who shows up Saturday night, when the Sharks can end the team’s playoff series with a victory. A sixth game, if necessary, will be played Monday at Staples Center.
Kings Coach Terry Murray said he will stick with his plan to insert left wing Scott Parse in the lineup, even though Parse hasn’t played since Nov. 15 and underwent hip surgery shortly after that game. Parse will skate alongside Michal Handzus and Justin Williams, as Parse did in Friday’s practice.
The Kings’ fourth line will be Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Kevin Westgarth, which means Alexei Ponikarovsky -- who scored the Kings’ final goal in their 6-3 loss Thursday at home -- will be scratched from the lineup, as will Oscar Moller.
Whether he’s doing it to justify General Manager Dean Lombardi’s trade for Penner or he believes against all evidence that Penner will suddenly become motivated to play at both ends of the ice, Murray kept Penner in the lineup.
“Against this San Jose team, they’ve got three dominant lines. I’ve said this before, they’ve got three lines that are probably as good as any in the National Hockey League,” Murray said Saturday morning. “And they can play the game any way you want, any way they want it. And so it’s important for us to play four lines.
“When you have your top guy out of the lineup like this everybody has to dig in, check the proper way and play hard every shift. So with Parse going into the lineup here tonight I’m going to take Ponikarovsky out. Put Penner there with Stoll. It’s a little bit of a risk but I haven’t been getting enough from the top line on that left side, on the production side of it, and Parse has ability. He has skill. So I’m going to take that look here tonight.”
Murray said he took Ponikarovsky’s Game 4 goal into consideration but found better reasons to play Penner, who has one assist and is -4 defensively in the series.
Penner hasn’t scored a goal since March 13. “I think everybody is frustrated,” he said after participating in the morning skate.
That includes himself.
“I think I’m overthinking a lot, with a new team, just not going out there and playing the game that got me to where I am,” said Penner, who was acquired from Edmonton on Feb. 28.
“In Edmonton it’s just a whole different style of play, but that’s no excuse.”
The Oilers paid little attention to defense, certainly. “We tried to outscore the opponents there,” Penner said, smiling.
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Helene Elliott, reporting from San Jose
Photo: Dustin Penner warms up before Game 3 on Tuesday. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire