The San Jose Sharks have once again cut their pursuit of a second-round berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to a single-win affair with Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the rival Los Angeles Kings.
The Sharks now have a 3-1 advantage in the series, but know first-hand the pitfalls of complacency. In 2014, he team failed four times to sever their first-round matchup with the Kings after initially jumping to a 3-0 lead.
Head Coach Peter DeBoer said:
“There’s a reason (the Kings) have won two of the last four cups. They’re not going away, no lead is safe. This series isn’t over until we find a way to win another game.”
After being stifled during all five of their man-up chances during Game 3, San Jose’s power-play unit ultimately proved to be the game-tipping factor. A vintage Brent Burns slap shot from satellite range eased the frustrations of the Sharks’ special teams during its first opportunity of the game.
Seven minutes later, Joe Pavelski’s flip-in from point-blank range erased the concerns altogether, keeping the power-play unit’s production rate at 100 percent after two chances.
“I think the group felt last game that we could’ve won the game had we cashed in on the power play. I think they came out tonight to make sure that if we got opportunities that they’d put them in, and we did that. That’s the kind of group we have.”
Patrick Marleau cashed in on another power-play opportunity early in the third, putting back Logan Couture’s outside shot for his second score of the series and sixteenth career postseason game-winner.
Back-to-back penalties from Matt Nieto and Joel Ward strained the Sharks’ penalty kill unit between the first two scores, but San Jose weathered the disadvantages as their rivals faltered.
The Kings threatened in the third period with a two-goal surge that nearly leveled what had been a blowout. The Sharks veteran presence shone during the game’s closing minutes, providing stability during a frantic Los Angeles push.
Joe Pavelski said:
“You understand you’re still alright you’ve still got the lead. It’s something we can’t sit back on. We realize there’s going to be a little adversity along the way, you knew they weren’t going to quit when they got down three.”
The Sharks will look to close out the series tomorrow at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where they are undefeated on the season.