Despite history, Sharks optimistic going into Game 3
SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have been in this situation before, trailing 2-0 in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series -- just as they are now against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Nine times to be exact. They've lost all nine series and never forced a Game 7.
But this time, the Sharks are determined to make history instead of repeat it.
"I know we can come back," defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said Friday. "We just have to take care of home ice. They took care of home ice in L.A. We'll do the same, and we'll be back at zero-zero again. We got to come out strong in Game 3. The guys in here are very excited about tomorrow night. We're ready to respond, and we will."
Center Joe Pavelski said, "It’s a new year. This team feels good together. I felt like we deserved better so far. We haven’t gotten it and we’re going to keep pushing and try to get the results we want. That’s the biggest thing. It’s just about winning this next game."
The Sharks owned a 3-2 lead Thursday night with less than two minutes remaining in Game 2 at Staples Center and appeared ready to even the series. But the Kings' Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis scored back-to-back power-play goals in a 22-second span -- the first one a 5-on-3 strike -- and held on for a 4-3 victory. According to STATS LLC, it was the third time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1988 that a team had a lead with less than two minutes left in the third period and lost in regulation.
It was a brutal and devastating way to lose for the Sharks. But when they arrived at team headquarters Friday for a meeting and optional skate in preparation for Game 3 on Saturday night at HP Pavilion (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), they were surprisingly upbeat and confident.
"Coming in today, we could have been hanging our heads and moping around," defenseman Brad Stuart said. "But I don't sense that at all. Obviously, guys aren't feeling good about what happened last night, but when you look at the big picture, we feel good about knowing what we have to do and what we control. We feel good about being able to get back into the series. We have a lot of veteran guys who have been in this situation before, so nobody is going to panic.
"In the playoffs, whether it's a big win or big loss, you have to put it behind you pretty quickly because you're getting back at it. The result of last game shouldn't carry over to the next game. You have to put it behind you -- good or bad -- and move on. I think, just from being around the guys today, that we've done that."
Just minutes after Game 2, coach Todd McLellan said the past Sharks teams he coached probably would have trouble bouncing back from such a devastating loss, "but with this group of guys we have, I think we can recover."
"There's just more of a relaxed atmosphere here," McLellan said Friday. "I don't want to say 'not as mature' -- sometimes that works in your favor -- but just a different group. There weren't many lips hanging today, and that hasn't always been the case. I think guys are excited about getting back out there and playing. That's all we can do."
The Sharks showed their resiliency in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks, coming from behind in three of the four games as they swept the series. During the regular season they had to fight to get into the playoffs after a midseason slump.
"You look earlier this year when we lost all those games in a row, there were a ton of people who counted us out, who said we were going to miss the playoffs," center Logan Couture said. "We fought back, obviously went through a great stretch at the end and then people said we had no chance against Vancouver. We beat them, and now people are saying we're done. So we've just got to battle through it."
Despite losing, the Sharks took plenty of positives from Game 2. They overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring three straight goals against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who shut them out in Game 1.
"We did a lot of really good things," Couture said. "I thought we deserved to win that game. But we didn't. We're down 2-0. Time to come into our building. It's going to be loud. The fans are going to be into it. We've got to find a way to win."