Programming note: Coverage of Game 5 between the Sharks and Kings begins Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – Mike Brown saw Willie Mitchell hit James Sheppard in the final minute of Game 4 on Thursday night in Los Angeles, and he didn’t like it.
The ensuing scrum, with, among others, Brown, Raffi Torres and Andrew Desjardins from the Sharks’ side and Mitchell and Jarret Stoll on the Kings, was one of several late scraps that serve as an appetizer for Game 5 at San Jose on Saturday.
“It kind of went back to the Mitchell hit. We just went out there," Brown said. "We want to establish that physical presence, and try to get that momentum back going our way. We were just out there protecting our guys, and just kind of trying to stir it up.”
There were a few more altercations after that one, including Justin Braun and Justin Williams dropping the gloves for an unlikely bout, and Brent Burns getting into it with former teammate Marian Gaborik and Robyn Regehr, the latter of which he traded blows with after the final horn.
Even after that brawl, players on both teams were see jawing at one another before heading to their respective dressing rooms, as the Kings secured their first win in the in the best-of-seven series. The Sharks still lead, three games to one.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Kings force Game 5 with 6-3 win over Sharks]
Game 5 should be another rousing get-together.
Brown said: “This is playoff hockey. Both teams are trying to get the edge. That stuff happens. You get big hits, and you get some bad hits here and there. It’s how you respond and how you react to it.”
“I think it’s been a physical series from Game 1. I think maybe last night there was a little more emotion at the end,” Brad Stuart said. “You saw some stuff we hadn’t seen a whole lot of the first couple of games. That kind of stuff was just a little bit of nonsense at the end of the game. It’s going to be as physical as it has been in the first four games.”
While the Sharks would certainly like to keep their heart rates high, they could do a better job of staying within the rules. San Jose was shorthanded four times in Game 3 and five times in Game 4. During the regular season, the Sharks were shorthanded fewer than any other NHL team at just 2.67 per game.
The Kings have scored three power play goals in the last two games, after going a combined 0-for-4 in the first two. On Thursday, Torres’ avoidable second period boarding penalty on Dustin Brown resulted in a Justin Williams power play marker.
“We’ve taken some penalties that we wouldn’t like to take so far in this series,” Logan Couture said. “Going forward, stay out of the box, obviously play hard between the whistles. Things happen after the whistles. We just have to be a little bit smarter.”
“When you look at some of the penalties we’ve received, too many of them have occurred in the offensive zone, which is normally where you don’t take them,” Todd McLellan said. “You want to play aggressive and you want to play on the edge, but you can’t play in the penalty box. Both teams have been guilty of that somewhat, but we’ll try and clean that up.”
Staying disciplined could prove to be more difficult as the overall temperature of the series continues to rise. But, it’s necessary, indicated McLellan.
“The important stuff goes on between the whistles,” said the coach. “That’ll certainly be a focus of ours, is to make sure we channel our energy and focus between the whistles. We don’t have to be involved in that stuff. It’s a waste of time and energy. We’ll approach the game that way.”