For additional insight into the Western Conference First Round series between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Mike Johnston to break down the action. Johnston will be checking in throughout the series.
Johnston, 59, was most recently the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, compiling a 58-37-15 record during his tenure. He was coach and general manager of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks from 2008 to 2014. He also has been an assistant coach for the Kings and the Vancouver Canucks.
The San Jose Sharks won a second straight one-goal game on the road in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round Series against the Los Angeles Kings, holding on for a 2-1 victory Saturday and taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
The Kings and Sharks move to the Bay Area for the next two games. Game 3 is Monday at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, PRIME, CSN-CA).
So far, Johnston has really liked what he has seen from the Sharks.
"For me, San Jose has played two really good road games," Johnston said. "Their power play has been effective, they have taking away the mid-ice and goaltender Martin Jones has been really calm and cool in the net."
Johnston admits that the Sharks getting early goals in each game helped. In fact, San Jose scored on its first shot in each game. In Game 2, a goal by Joe Pavelski gave the visitors the lead and that was a huge advantage.
Video: SJS@LAK, Gm2: Pavelski fires it by Quick for the lead
"For the Sharks, it settled the game down and it let them get in a groove," Johnston said. "For Los Angeles, it seemed they were chasing the game a little bit after that."
The game, Johnston believes, changed for good on a 5-on-3 power play when Logan Couture scored in the second period. It was a big moment in a game that had sat at 1-0 for more than a period.
"If you don't score there if you are San Jose, you give the Kings a huge lift," Johnston said. "If you score there, you make it difficult on Los Angeles because of the lack of good scoring changes in the game."
The Kings did not score until there was 5:01 left in the third period, when forward Vincent Lecavalier put home a rebound on the power play.
Video: SJS@LAK, GM2: Levacalier gets Kings on the board
For Johnston, it was the type of hockey that the Kings have to play if they want to get back into this series. They got shots on goal, made Jones shed his cool demeanor, forced him to scramble a bit and give up some rebounds.
That was not the case for the majority of the game. The Kings missed 25 shots and had 27 others blocked.
"You can't miss the net when Jones is in a groove like he has been," Johnston says. "You have to get them on net, make Jones stop them and maybe scramble a bit. You can't cut it too fine."
With all that said, Johnston believes there is a lot of hockey left to be played in this series.
He believes the Kings need to find a way to get back to their power cycle game and see if they can wear down the Sharks' defenders a bit.
"They are in a hole, but they have been through it before and come out on the good side," he said. "I don't think until you deliver the knockout punch to that team until you have them out of a series. They have come back before, and that confidence is such a powerful thing."