SAN JOSE -- The Sharks will have to wait until Sunday to find out who their opponent will be for the Western Conference semifinals after the Detroit Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in overtime Friday night to stave off elimination.
Had Anaheim defeated Detroit to win the series, the Sharks, seeded sixth, would have played the No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks in the second round with the series starting in Chicago on a yet-to-be-determined date. Anaheim hosts Detroit in Game 7 of their series Sunday.
If the No. 7 Red Wings beat the Ducks, Detroit, as the lowest remaining seed, would play the Blackhawks and the Sharks would play No. 5 Los Angeles, which closed out its series against No. 4 St. Louis on Friday. If Anaheim wins the series, it will face Los Angeles in the next round.
The Sharks wrapped up a four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime win at HP Pavilion. They practiced Friday for the first time since that game.
"We're thinking about who we're going to play, but mostly, we're worried about how we're going to play," Sharks center Logan Couture said Friday afternoon. "All three of those teams that we might play are really good teams and have done a great job. But if we continue to play the way we've been playing, hopefully we can beat one of them."
"I wouldn't read a lot into anybody that practices there this week," McLellan said of the fourth line spot. "We'll keep that open. We have a number of different choices."
With Marty Havlat still questionable for the start of the second round, Kennedy might be the next person the Sharks call on. With Gomez and Havlat out, Kennedy played 10 minutes and 40 seconds in Game 2 in Vancouver. He also has previous playoff experience, having played six games and recording three points for Buffalo in 2010 in their first round series against Boston.
Kennedy had two goals in 13 games for the Sharks this season. In the regular-season finale against Los Angeles, he tied a team high for the season with eight hits.
"You're always happy when you get to play," Kennedy said. "I don't think there's one guy in this league that would say they like sitting out, but when the team's winning, there's not much you can do. Just wait your turn and when you get your number called, then you have to go perform."
"TK's been an outstanding teammate for us the whole year," Gomez said. "He hasn't played much and he could have easily caused a disruption, but everyone knows what a great kid he is. And he can play."
"He hasn't strayed or wandered from his recipe for success in the regular season and the playoffs," McLellan said. "When you do that, you seem to fit in very well."
Irwin, 25, said he learned to become more patient in the offensive zone during the season.
"Now you still look for that first play and have a little more poise with the puck," Irwin said. "Offensively that's come along."