San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton checks Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty into the boards during Saturday’s game in San Jose.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — For all that the San Jose Sharks accomplished with their overtime victory over Los Angeles in Game 3, they know it will mean very little if they don’t back that win up with another at home against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.
“We haven’t accomplished anything,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We didn’t get our work done in LA, and that put us behind the eight ball. The fact that we win Game 3, that’s great, but we still are behind in the series and the series is getting shorter. The lifeline wasn’t as long as it was in the past. We’ve just got to find a way to get even. If our intensity or urgency drops because we’ve won a single game, I would be disappointed in our group.”
After taking it easy the day after San Jose’s 2-1 win, both teams stepped up preparation on Monday in advance of Game 4 tonight at the Shark Tank.
The Kings aren’t about to feel complacent, considering they were less than 2 minutes away from losing Game 2 at home and have won just once in 10 road games since March.
“We can’t rest and just be comfortable with being a good home team,” forward Justin Williams said. “We need to be killers on the road. Coming back with a 3-1 lead is certainly something we’re going to do our darnedest to do.”
The Kings came close to getting that elusive road win in Game 3 on Saturday when they fell in overtime after being called for two penalties in the final minute of regulation to set up Logan Couture’s power-play goal in overtime.
The second of those penalties particularly irked the Kings, who contend Trevor Lewis was pushed into San Jose goalie Antti Niemi by Patrick Marleau and shouldn’t have been called for goaltender interference.
That came one game after the Sharks complained about a late delay of game call on Marc-Edouard Vlasic that gave the Kings a two-man advantage and eventually led to two goals that gave Los Angeles a 4-3 win.
The Kings look to rebound from their disappointment the same way the Sharks did from theirs.
“There’s zero momentum,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “Once you get in the playoffs, there’s zero momentum unless somebody is way better than somebody, and as you see, nobody is. If there’s a carry-over, then you’re probably not a playoff team.”
The home teams have won all three games so far this series and both teams are undefeated at home in the postseason this year. The Sharks have been dominant all season on home ice, going 17-2-5 in the regular season that included two wins over Los Angeles.
The biggest reason for the home success has been a potent power play that has been far more efficient at the Shark Tank than on the road. San Jose has scored on an NHL-best 28.4 percent of power plays at home during the regular and postseason compared to just 13.6 percent on the road.
The difference has been even more stark in the postseason where the Sharks are 8-for-20 on the power play at home and just 1-for-16 on the road, including 0-for-7 the first two games in Los Angeles. San Jose did score one goal 5 seconds after the end of a power play in Game 2 against the Kings.
Defenseman Dan Boyle said there was little difference other than the final results on the power play in Game 3, when he got the scoring started with a power-play goal 4 seconds into a man advantage early in the first period and Couture ended the game with a power-play goal in overtime.
“It’s about scoring goals,” Boyle said. “If we don’t score yesterday, you guys would be talking about how bad we are, how much we’re struggling. We had some good looks in L.A., we just didn’t put the puck in the net. The one goal we had, the penalty had just expired.
“The end of the day, you’ve just got to put the puck in the net and the first power play took, what? Three or four seconds. That’s not a good power play, that’s execution. It’s a won faceoff, it’s a guy going to the net. That’s just good execution.”
The Kings could get a boost with the potential return of forward Kyle Clifford, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury.
Clifford scored three of his seven regular-season goals this year against the Sharks and all three of his career playoff goals came in a six-game series against San Jose two years ago.
“He can give us that big physical, emotional lift that we can use right now,” forward Colin Fraser said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t take a shift off, and he’s hard to play against. I’ve played with him on and off for two years, and he’s a big, physical player who keeps it simple. You know what you’re going to get out of him every shift.”
NOTES: McLellan said he would consider dressing seven defensemen with F Marty Havlat once again sidelined with a lower-body injury. D Jason Demers, who has missed the past 11 games with a lower-body injury, skated with the forwards for part of practice. ... San Jose F Adam Burish, who was ruled out of the series with a broken right hand, took part in practice and remains hopeful he could return at some point this series.
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