SAN JOSE – In the moments and even the day after the Sharks’ thrilling overtime win on Saturday, the team had a right to feel good about itself. All three games of the Sharks-Kings second round playoff series could have gone either way, and San Jose essentially kept its season alive when Logan Couture’s quick wrist shot from the slot buzzed past Jonathan Quick.
Still, the Sharks do trail the Kings in the series, two games to one. All they’ve done is hold serve on home ice, and they’ll have to do the same thing on Tuesday night to avoid facing elimination at Staples Center on Thursday.
“We haven’t accomplished anything. We didn’t get our work done in L.A., and that put us behind the eight ball,” head coach Todd McLellan said. “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 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.”
The Sharks are enjoying their first two-day break between playoff games. In the first round, they played every other day in quickly dispatching the Vancouver Canucks.
Although they had an entire week between the end of that round and the start of the next one in Los Angeles, the two days off could be coming at a good time. Couture got an extra day to rest after his apparent left leg injury in Game 3 (which he later returned from), while Adam Burish and Jason Demers are also getting closer to a potential debut in the series.
The Kings are also likely benefitting from the brief respite. Los Angeles’ series against the Blues ended three days after the Sharks’ clincher.
“The ability to get some rest is an advantage for both teams,” McLellan said. “They came off a six-game series, we came off a four-game series. Theirs was very physical, so maybe in that sense it helps them a little bit more. They get a little more time to recover. It can work for or against each team depending on how they come out in Game 4.”
Joe Thornton said: “Both teams probably have some guys hurt, bumps and bruises, so it will give both teams a couple of days to get the guys back. For both teams, that’s probably good.”
The Kings took an hour flight home immediately following Game 3, and were set to fly back to the Bay Area on Monday afternoon. Could that extra travel benefit the Sharks, who remained at home the entire time?
“No, it’s such a short flight. I think I read that their flight was just as long as them getting home after a game anyway,” Dan Boyle said.
Boyle expects to see an improved Kings team on Tuesday night than the Sharks saw in Game 3.
“We felt we’ve been the better team through three games, and unfortunately we’re down 2-1. I think we’re going to see a better team Thursday night from their side, so we’re going to have to raise our game even more,” he said.
Thornton said: “We feel like we’re playing good. We feel like we’re continuing to get better, and that’s been our goal from day one, just get better each and every day. We’re down 2-1, but we have some big confidence going.”