Programming note: Coverage of Game 2 between the Sharks and Kings begins Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – In a series that has been dominated by the home team over the last several years, the Sharks know their Game 1 win has only put them in position to maintain what is perhaps the biggest advantage they have over their rival to the south.
The Sharks’ 6-3 triumph on Thursday gave the home team wins in 21 of the last 23 games, including playoffs (21-1-1). Sunday’s Game 2 is again at SAP Center before the series shifts to Staples Center next week, which has been a house of horrors for San Jose of late.
After dominating the Kings for 40 minutes and taking an insurmountable 5-0 lead after two periods, chasing Jonathan Quick from the game, the Sharks expect a better effort from the Kings on Sunday as Los Angeles still has a chance to wrestle away home ice advantage.
“I’m sure they’ll make adjustments. Just like us, they watch game tape and see what we did well and what we didn’t and try to adjust,” Brad Stuart said. “They’ll make adjustments, but obviously we won’t know what they are until the game gets going, and then from there it’s a game of adjustments at that point.”
Joe Thornton stated simply: “They don’t want to go down two games to nothing. So, they’ll be ready.”
It’s unlikely that either team will jump out to a five-goal lead, of course. Close games have become a staple of this series, too, with 15 of the previous 21 being decided by one goal, and 12 of the last 35, or more than one-third, going past regulation.
“We figure it’s going to be 2-1 type scores,” Thornton said. “I doubt we’ll score five on them again tonight. Just be prepared for a tight-checking game."
The message from Sharks’ coaching staff was a fairly easy one to deliver, from Todd McLellan’s standpoint. Play like they did in the first two periods of Game 1, and the Sharks will put themselves in a position to have success. Play like they did in the third, and they’re toast.
“We can use Game 1 as a real good teaching tool,” McLellan said. “We have this presentation and this presentation. … If we make this decision over here we give ourselves a chance to win. If we make this one it's not going to happen for us. It's as simple as that. It's a very black and white comparison, if you will. The players had that on our very first day, the day off on Friday. That was the only message sent to them. But, now it's a matter of getting out there and doing it."
Stuart said: “The first two periods we were pretty aggressive. We were in on the forecheck and had success. In the third period we thought we had to defend instead of be aggressive, and it didn’t work.”
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Kings coach Darryl Sutter was asked what his team could do better headed into Game 2.
"I think if you break it down, if you want to take it from the team standpoint into an individual standpoint, surely your top players have to be a little more on top of it, and that's right through your lineup,” Sutter said.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell said of Game 1: "[We] played a real loose hockey game where we weren't connected as a group. For some reason, didn't have jump. You can just feel it around here. Guys are in a better place and ready to go, and I know you'll see a much better effort from our hockey club."