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Kings' Darryl Sutter has eye on home-ice advantage

Los Angeles Kings coach recalls the difference playing at home made last season in the Stanley Cup Final, as the team prepares to play the San Jose Sharks in their last regular-season game.

April 27, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings Coach Darryl Sutter watches from the bench during a game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter watches from the bench during a game against the… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

With one regular-season game left, the Kings' playoff possibilities outnumber even Coach Darryl Sutter's new line combinations.

This much is sure: The Kings can finish fourth in the West and have home-ice advantage in the first round if the St. Louis Blues lose in any fashion to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kings beat the San Jose Sharks in any fashion Saturday. A win by the Blues would leave the Kings and Sharks fighting for fifth place. The winner would face St. Louis and the loser would play No. 3 Vancouver.

The Kings own the tiebreaker over St. Louis and San Jose, and St. Louis owns the tiebreaker over San Jose.

This much is sure too: The Kings will be without Dustin Brown, who's finishing a two-game suspension for elbowing Minnesota's Jason Pominville in the head. They might also lack defenseman Matt Greene, who didn't practice Friday and is day to day because of an unspecified injury. Sutter said it's not related to Greene's back surgery.

"We need him to get minutes … and game situations," Sutter said. "It's disappointing, really."

According to club stats whiz Jeremy Zager, 12 possible playoff scenarios could unfold Saturday for the Kings, Sharks and Blues. For Sutter, there's one imperative — win.

"The last game that we won in the playoffs was on home ice and that does make a difference," Sutter said, referring to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. "Home ice is important."

Defenseman Drew Doughty said the team's goal is to open the playoffs at Staples Center.

"If we get home ice we can use that momentum on our side to hopefully put teams away the first couple games on home ice," he said. "Home ice is still important. We would love to have it."

From left out to left wing

Dustin Penner, a healthy scratch at Detroit on Wednesday, is scheduled to return Saturday as Sutter tries to beef up the left side. Penner practiced alongside Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams on Friday.

The other lines were Jordan Nolan-Brad Richardson-Tyler Toffoli; Kyle Clifford-Anze Kopitar-Jeff Carter, and Dwight King-Mike Richards-Trevor Lewis.

"For us to have any chance in the playoffs, we need to get those guys to be productive players for us," Sutter said of his left wings, "and the way they can do it is to have a good game [Saturday]."

Penner praised his new linemates, especially Stoll's faceoff skills. "More times than not, you're starting with the puck," Penner said. "He's always the first guy back. As the centerman, he makes simple, easy plays, tape to tape. And [Williams] has got that creativity in his game, much like Ales Hemsky, who I played with before. He can stickhandle in a phone booth and still hold onto pucks."

You don't see many phone booths anymore.

"I do," Penner said.

Where?

"Places I'd rather not discuss," he said.

Saturday night

SAN JOSE

When: 7:30.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: NBCSN; Radio: 1150.

Record vs. Sharks: 1-1-1.

Etc.: The Sharks can still finish fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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