SAN JOSE -– It was virtually inevitable that the Kings were going to tie the game in the second period. The Sharks led 1-0 on Logan Couture’s first-period goal, but squandered glorious chance after glorious chance before Dustin Brown tucked in the equalizer midway through regulation.
That could have been when the defending Stanley Cup champs seized momentum. Instead, the Sharks continued to outplay their rivals to the South, and earned one of their more important wins of the season on Wednesday night at home, 4-2.
“We had the edge all night and it felt like just the way we were playing, it didn’t matter that they scored,” Joe Pavelski said. “We felt fine.”
Todd McLellan said: “We didn't get too nervous, too panicky about it. We did have chances that we weren't able to score on, but I didn't sense on the bench that the guys were saying, 'We're in trouble now because we didn't score.' That was mentally strong through those moments."
The Sharks outplayed the Kings in just about every facet of the game, including special teams, where they scored twice and allowed one late power play goal-against in five chances.
They were also able to put Monday’s ugly loss to the Devils quickly behind them. After that one, a 5-2 decision, McLellan suggested the team’s internal drive and competitiveness was absent.
A visit from the hated Kings restored those necessary emotions.
“What's most satisfying is the competitiveness that we showed up with,” McLellan said. “We shouldn't need to talk about it, but now that it was there throughout 20 players, it should go recognized.”
“Right off the start, the competition level was there,” Pavelski said. “When that’s there and guys are engaged, all the small stuff seems to take care of itself.”
Desperately trying to find their rhythm at home, the Sharks won for just the second time at SAP Center in the last seven (2-4-1), where they will remain for three more games coming out of the All-Star break.
They also buried the fifth place Kings a little bit further in the standings, and now lead Los Angeles by four points. The Kings could very well be in jeopardy when it comes to making the postseason if they don’t regroup after the break, with just one win now in their last eight (1-3-4).
Patrick Marleau, who scored a power play goal, said: “We have a lot of home games coming up. We still have to make this a tough building for other teams to come in and play in. Tonight was a good step in the right direction.”
The Sharks will get to rest for the next five days, and don’t reconvene as a team again until next Tuesday for practice.
They host the Ducks on Thursday, Jan. 29, and will be able to use this game as a reference point for how they need to play in the final stretch.
“We want them to turn everything off and recoup. That's why it's a break,” McLellan said. “The bodies need to heal a little bit, the mind needs to heal. Then when they return and we begin to practice again, let's turn the systems back on. It's a whole lot better doing that with a win than a loss."
Pavelski said: “There’s certain games in the season where it’s really important to win, and you just feel better about yourself. But whether we won this or lost, our mindset can’t change. We can’t be satisfied, and I think we’re learning that.”