Buzz in L.A. leads to road comfort for Kings

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Buzz in L.A. leads to road comfort for Kings

NEWARK, N.J. The last thing the Los Angeles Kings probably wanted to do was get back on that plane on Thursday.

Its part of the rigors of a Stanley Cup series, one that continues because the New Jersey Devils won Game 4 in L.A. on Wednesday. But in hitting the road again, the Kings have likely never felt more at home.

Yes, weve been through the Kings remarkable road roll during these playoffs. But when you go 10-0 away from home it bears repeating, and the Kings will try to tap into that road magic again on Saturday night in Game 5 against the Devils. Its another opportunity to claim the Cup for the Kings, and if they finish it up on the road, whos really going to be surprised?

Even during regular seasons, teams often talk about how much more relaxed, more focused they are on the road. The Kings have epitomized that in these playoffs. From their opportunistic special teams to the stellar play of Jonathan Quick, the Kings have done just about everything right on the road.

We play a solid team game on the road, Anze Kopitar said. And were going to need it tomorrow.

That road focus is there for another reason, too. Back home, Los Angeles has caught Kings fever. Players said the coverage and attention has been tremendous. And while thats great and positive and such, it can also be distracting. So three time zones and a coast away, they can focus on the task at hand.

Theres so much happening, Jeff Carter said of L.A.s hockey buzz. Especially when youre one win away, its nice to get away and focus on hockey. Thats what were here to do is to win. Were comfortable playing on the road. There are no distractions, nothing to worry about, except hockey.

Colin Fraser, who dealt with that Cup craze in Chicago during their run in 2010, agreed.

Theres a lot going on, just a buzz in the city, said Fraser. Were comfortable on the road. I dont really know why, but weve just played well on the road.

So it comes down to at least one more game. For the Kings, make that at least one more road game. Theyve excelled there, even if they cant exactly figure out why. One more victory, and they wont have to think about anything except that Cup.

Morning Update: Bulls prep for Game 4; Cubs won; Sox lost

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AP

Morning Update: Bulls prep for Game 4; Cubs won; Sox lost

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 4 today on CSN

Preview: Cubs look to sweep Reds on CSN

White Sox scoreless streak hits 23 innings in loss to Indians

No clear options for Fred Hoiberg at point guard

Two days later, Blackhawks still stunned, 'embarrassed' by quick exit

Cubs offense explodes with three home runs in victory over Reds

Stan Bowman 'completely, completely disappointed' with Blackhawks

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer: 'Our time is coming soon'

Still in mourning, Isaiah Thomas dictates pace, delivers for Celtics

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May gets 'Harambe' off his back with first career hit

Jacob May earned his first career hit on Saturday night when he singled up in the middle against Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, ending an 0-for-26 start to his major league career. That lengthy stretch without a hit put a weight on May's back heavier than a monkey, as the cliché usually goes.

Instead, that weight felt like America's favorite deceased silverback gorilla. 

"It was kind of like having Harambe on my back," May, a Cincinnati native, said. "I was in a chokehold because I couldn't breathe as well. Now that he's gone, hopefully I can have a lot of success and help this team win.

In all seriousness, May felt an extraordinary relief when he reached first base. He said first base coach Daryl Boston looked at him and said, "Finally," when he reached first base, and when he got back to the dugout, he was mobbed by his teammates and hugged by manager Rick Renteria.

Before anyone could congratulate him in the dugout, though, May let out a cathartic scream into his helmet.

"I was just like oh, man, I let loose a little bit," May said. "This locker room, every'one has kind of helped me out and brought me aside, and told me to just relax. It's a tough situation when you are trying to impress instead of going out there and having fun. Just kind of got to release all that tension built up."

May only had the opportunity to hit because left fielder Melky Cabrera injured his left wrist in the top of the seventh inning (X-Rays came back negative and Cabrera said he should be able to play Sunday). May didn't have much time to think about having to pinch hit for Cabrera, who was due to lead off the bottom of the seventh, which Renteria figured worked in his favor.

"When we hit for Melky, I was talking to (bench coach Joe McEwing), I said, 'He's not going to have anytime to think about it. He's going to get into the box and keep it probably as simple as possible,'" Renteria said. "I don't think he even had enough time to put his guard on his shin. He just got a pitch out over the middle of the plate and stayed within himself and just drove it up the middle, which was nice to see. Obviously very excited for him."

When May reached first base, he received a standing ovation from the crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field, too, even with the White Sox well on their way to a 7-0 loss to the Indians. It's a moment May certainly won't forget anytime soon, especially now that he got Harambe off his back.

"I kind of soaked it all in," May said. "It was probably one of the most surreal, best experiences of my life."