Most road teams in a playoff series would be perfectly happy taking a split back to home ice. But, following a gutsy 4-3 win in Los Angeles on Thursday, the Sharks look to get greedy tonight and take a 2-0 series lead back to San Jose.
The Sharks played one of their best games all year against Los Angeles on Thursday. Although Los Angeles ended up out-shooting and out-possessing San Jose in all situations, that was largely due to the frantic rush with Jonathan Quick pulled at the end of the game, and the Sharks remaining in a defensive shell to close out the game. Only two Sharks finished with negative possession numbers in even strength, score-adjusted situations on Thursday, and maintaining that strong possession game is critical if the Sharks want to take a series lead back to the SAP Center.
The Kings have been in this position before (like you needed to be reminded). Los Angeles has gone down 1-0 in a series four times previously under Darryl Sutter, and are 1-3 in Game 2s. The problem, of course, is that the Kings are 3-1 in those series, with their last series loss coming to Chicago in the 2013 Western Conference Finals. Regardless of the history, you'd bet the Sharks would be much happier with a series lead than a split going into Game 3.
Tale Of The Tape
|46-30-6||Regular Season Record||48-28-6|
|3rd in Pacific||Rank||2nd in Pacific
Joe Pavelski scored two goals, and Martin Jones picked up the win in his first ever playoff start as the Sharks took a 1-0 series lead in Los Angeles on Thursday.
- The Kings will most likely be without Alec Martinez tonight. Jon Rosen says Martinez did not skate on Friday, and recalled defenseman Kevin Gavel from the AHL. Martinez didn't have a strong game on Thursday, but drew the toughest zone starts of any Kings defender. His likely replacement, Jamie McBain, drew the easiest.
- Martinez' absence means Drew Doughty will likely play even more minutes tonight. He played 0:34 more than his season average on Thursday. Doughty is used to playing a ton of minutes, but he doesn't produce at the same rate in those minutes as some of his peers in the Norris discussion. He's still somebody the Sharks will have to be aware of all night.
- In the Sharks' last 33 regular season wins, Joe Thornton scored at least one point, according to friend of the blog Kevin Kurz. On Thursday, the Sharks won without Thornton scoring. He was still a beast despite not having his name on the scoresheet, posting strong possession numbers as usual. Obviously, the Sharks need Thornton to put up points if they want to win this series. If he plays like he did on Thursday, those points should come.
- I gave the Kings an edge in special teams play coming into the series, but I thought the Sharks kept things pretty even there, aside from the shorthanded goal. The Sharks produced more shot attempts on the power play than the Kings, and would have kept the Kings off the scoresheet with the extra man had it not been for the fluky bounce on the second goal.
- Many (myself included) would have preferred to see Dainius Zubrus draw in over Nick Spaling on Thursday, but Spaling and the fourth line acquitted themselves very well. Spaling, Chris Tierney, and Tommy Wingels all had positive shot attempt differentials at even strength in score-adjusted situations. Tierney even got important minutes late in the game as the Sharks tried to hold on to their lead. Depth is so important in the playoffs, and having the Sharks' bottom six continue to play effectively will go a long way towards winning the series.