April 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Strong start critical in Game 5

Tomorrow, the Vancouver Canucks will be back in front of their home crowd, motivated to keep their season alive and probably re-energized after their Game 4 win. The first 10 minutes of a game are always critical, but for the Kings, in this situation and in that environment, how the game starts will probably go a long way toward determining how it ends. Since taking over, Darryl Sutter has made sharp starts a particular priority — they were often a weak point for the Kings under Terry Murray — and Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards both said they will be mindful of first-period play.

KOPITAR: “They’re going to come out strong, especially after (Game 4), and we’re going to have to be ready. They’re going to play with a lot of desperation, and we have to bring to the table everything that made us successful before.’’

RICHARDS: “Obviously our start on Sunday is going to be our focus, and then obviously carry it through. You can only worry about things that you can control, and like you said, the start is one of them.’’

Part of managing the early part of the game is getting a read on how it will be called by the referees. Given the Canucks’ strength on the power play in Game 4, the Kings will want to stay out of the penalty box early. In Game 4, officials did not call a first-period penalty.

RICHARDS: “There are a lot of games within the games. There are a lot of different things going on. There are a lot of penalties in one game and then not a lot in the other. You’re not exactly sure what they’re going to be calling, but that’s part of playoff hockey, making adjustments throughout the game. You just have to be ready for everything.’’

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