SAN JOSE – The Kings’ focus for Monday was simple – cut the Sharks’ series lead in half, and give themselves a chance to tie it in Game 4 before going back home for Game 5 on Friday.
After all, coach Darryl Sutter and several players indicated that they weren’t displeased with their efforts in the first two meetings at Staples Center, both one-goal wins by San Jose.
Tanner Pearson’s overtime goal at 3:47 of the first overtime gave Los Angeles a 2-1 victory, in a game – history aside – the Kings simply needed to win.
“That was exactly our approach before the game, to cut it in half and make it 2-1. We did an awesome job of that,” Drew Doughty said. “Now we have to go out there and win the next one.”
Speaking with reporters, Dustin Brown said: “It was just about cutting the series in half tonight. That’s what our mindset was coming up here. We accomplished that tonight.”
Doughty seemed to suggest that the pressure is now turned up on the Sharks at this point in the series.
“You know they’re thinking a little bit about it now, so we’re right where we want to be.”
The key moment came in the third period, with the Kings desperately trying to kill off an undisciplined Milan Lucic slash on Justin Braun midway through the frame. For most of it, Los Angeles was down to three men with sticks and one without, as Anze Kopitar had to drop his broken twig.
They managed to get out of it unscathed, and a few minutes later with Pearson in the box on a delay of game, the Sharks didn’t generate any prime scoring chances.
“At that time it just comes down to competing and how bad you want it,” said Doughty, who played a game high 35 minutes and one second, including 6:59 on the penalty kill.
“You kind of ignore how tired you can be and you know how important that PK is. Our penalty kill is a staple of this team. We take so much pride in it and when we get the job done like that it gives us momentum and really lifts our team.”
Despite taking an 0-for-5 – and managing just three shots on goal in 10 minutes – Sharks coach Pete DeBoer wasn’t unhappy with the power play.
“Because we don’t score doesn’t mean we’re not doing the right things,” he said. “That’s how the NHL goes. You’re not going to score on your power play every time. If we weren’t getting in and getting set up and getting looks, I’d be worried.”
Joe Thornton said: “Obviously they scored the power play goal and we didn't. We didn't get it done on the special teams.”