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 – A few hours before the puck dropped for their playoff opener on Thursday, there was a discussion in the Sharks’ dressing room about the importance of quickly moving on from each individual postseason game.
Head coach Todd McLellan revealed that Larry Robinson had a message to deliver.
“Larry is obviously the senior playoff experienced guy on our staff. He said it today – when a game is over, it’s over,” McLellan said Thursday morning. “Regardless of what happens, it’s time to move on. You can stink the place out or you can be the best you’ve ever been. It’s over, move on. … Each series evolves differently. We’ll follow the guy with the nine [Stanley Cup] rings. We’ll follow his advice.”
Fortunately for San Jose, they’ll be moving on from a convincing win, after controlling the Los Angeles Kings for most of a 6-3 triumph in Game 1. Players often talk during the regular season of moving on from a bad or convincing loss, but this time, the Sharks will have to try and jettison the good feelings they took from that performance.
“We enjoy it for 10 or 15 minutes after the game, and then like coach said, we put it behind us, win or loss,” Tommy Wingels said. “That’s what you have to do in the playoffs in a long series like this. You take good things from it and you find a few things you can improve on, but Game 1 was Game 1. It’s over with now.”
Most of the Sharks took Friday off from skating, but everyone was on the ice on Saturday afternoon, preparing for Sunday’s Game 2.
McLellan sensed his group has already put the good vibes from Game 1 behind it, and is focused on getting a commanding two-games-to-none lead on the Kings when the series resumes at SAP Center.
“I thought today we had some energy in practice. It’s a veteran group,” McLellan said Saturday. “We should know what to expect come the beginning of Game 2. We’ve been through enough successes and failures to know you have to put each game behind you and be ready to go.”
Logan Couture said: “I was thinking yesterday back when I first played the first couple of playoff games and how excited I’d be after one win. It’s changed when you’ve played a lot of playoff games, and you realize how long it takes to get to where you want to go, and how many wins it actually takes. It’s one game, move past it. It’s going to be a long series. We have to win on Sunday.”
The one area of their game that was less than ideal on Thursday was how the Sharks played in the third period. A 5-0 lead was whittled down to 5-3 with about six minutes to go in regulation, as the Kings had the majority of the zone time and scoring chances before Brent Burns’ late empty-net goal spoiled any chance of a miracle comeback.
San Jose learned a valuable lesson that it could perhaps take with it for the remainder of its playoff run.
“We’ve looked at clips where things we were doing in the first period, we were aggressive, and in the third, we were not aggressive anymore,” Wingels said. “It can’t be done, but it was. We paid for it.”
Whether the Kings gained some momentum from that late surge will be determined early in Game 2, but the Sharks are certain they’ll see a better performance from a club that still features most of its roster from its 2012 Stanley Cup championship.
“We expect ourselves to play better, and they’ll play better, and it probably will be another good game,” Couture said.