HP PAVILION — Down 2-0, nobody knew for sure if the Sharks could win twice at home to even up the series.
But San Jose held serve on home ice, edging the Kings 2-1 to win Game 4 with a goal from Brent Burns and a decider — once again — from Logan Couture.
Now it’s back to Los Angeles for Game 5 Thursday night. Though two wins doesn’t mean they’re the team with momentum, according to coach Todd McLellan:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan
Video: CSN Bay Area
“They’ll have their fans behind them. They’ll have last change so there’s a lot of things that swing back in their favor as well. So I think we have to reestablish it all over again. Maybe now the first team that can do that may have a distinct advantage.”
The Sharks completely dominated the first period in every category, outworking and outchancing the Kings.
Six minutes into the first period, Burns took a shot in close that Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick blocked. Thornton retrieved it behind the net then fed a centering pass to Burns at the bottom of the left faceoff circle for the one-timer to beat Quick.
San Jose had two power play opportunities in the period and outshot the Kings 15-3. Thanks to a great penalty kill — and Tommy Wingels clanging the puck off the crossbar — Los Angeles was fortunate to trail just 1-0 after 20 minutes.
In the second period, on the man advantage, Boyle had so much time and space to shoot the puck it was like a professional bowler delivering a perfect strike. Boyle’s blast from the point was redirected into the net by Couture.
The Kings nearly had a chance to get a goal back in the period when Jake Muzzin — bearing down on Antti Niemi — missed a golden chance with 2:35 remaining.
In the third period, the Sharks started out well but the Kings desperately did whatever they could to tie the game, outshooting the Sharks, 14-2.
Burns delivered a clean hit on Brad Richardson with 13:14 remaining in the third, skating backwards and gliding into him with an open ice hip check. A few minutes later, Burns picked up a boarding penalty after cross-checking Anze Kopitar into the glass along the corner.
On the power play, the Kings Jeff Carter took a shot saved by Niemi to the side of the net but Mike Richards kept banging away at the rebound until the puck was over the goal line.
Two-goal leads are the most tenuous in hockey, and the momentum was entirely in the Kings favor until late in the third period.
San Jose iced the puck with 3:06 left but couldn’t get a line change. Even after McLellan burned his timeout, the Sharks iced the puck again. Finally, the Sharks were able to get some fresh legs on the ice and that was instrumental. The third line had been skating for 1:31, far too long especially late in the third period.
Thankfully for the Sharks, the Kings could not get the equalizer even with an extra attacker on the ice in the closing seconds.
In the Kings dressing room, defenseman Rob Scuderi was concerned over the Kings’ lack of intensity:
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi
Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay
“We didn’t learn our lesson from Game 3 and the start they had and that’s on us as players from not learning from our own mistakes. But as the game went on we figured out a way to play, be aggressive and we started to get some opportunities and chances from it. But if we’re not going to learn from our mistakes and have a good start, we’re going to be behind in this series in no time.”
As the series shifts back to Los Angeles, Boyle thinks they could finally win that elusive game at Staples Center:
Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle
Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay
“If we play a similar game to the first two games, I’d like to think we’ll come up with a different result. It’s all about winning the game on the scoreboard and if we keep playing the same way and keep getting better, we’re going to give ourselves a chance.”
The Sharks were winless in Los Angeles in two games during the regular season and have lost Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Game 5 is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and televised on NBC Sports Network.
Niemi has allowed two goals or fewer in six of eight games this postseason. … Couture’s game-winning power play goal was his second straight game-winner on the man advantage. Couture’s five postseason power play goals leads the NHL.