SAN JOSE -- For San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, the third period of his team's 6-3 win Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series turned out to be a valuable "teaching tool."
The Sharks built a 5-0 lead through two periods, then allowed three straight goals in the third before Brent Burns scored an empty-net goal. The Sharks were reminded what could happen Sunday night in Game 2 if they lose their aggressiveness against the Kings.
"If you play on your heels, you stand back, you give them time and space and the ability to generate speed and get their forecheck going, you have no chance of winning," McLellan said after the Sharks' morning skate at SAP Center."
San Jose second-line center Logan Couture said the Sharks "sat back" in the third period and watched much of their big lead disappear as Kings defensemen Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov and center Trevor Lewis scored consecutive goals.
"We didn't really attack them like we were in the first two periods," Couture said. "We let their D become more active. When you have guys like Voynov, (Drew) Doughty, Muzzin, (Alec) Martinez, who like to carry the puck up the ice, when you give them space, they're going to make plays. That's what they did. That's why they played in our end. We've got to force those four D-men especially to play in their end and forecheck them hard and hopefully have a good start."
San Jose jumped on Los Angeles quickly in Game 1, but the Kings regrouped in the third and recaptured their typical strong defensive game.
"We'll be better tonight," Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll said after the Kings' optional morning skate. "We've all been in this situation once or twice or 10 times. I think we all know how we have to react. If we don't, then we're going to put ourselves in an even deeper hole. But we feel confident with our team.
"You're not going to go 16-0. You're going to have adversity. We've dealt with it good in the past. Again, this is a different year, different series, different team. We just got to make it happen. We got to play the game the right way, our style, our way. I'm not worried about them. They have their own team and own way and their style of play. We got to play our way and just play the right way."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he has continued to remind his team to be ready for a strong push from the Sharks in the first period.
"When you're starting on the road and you're in a building where one of the best teams in the League at home, it's not going to be easy," said Sutter, a former Sharks coach. "You ain't going to steal it. That's for sure. And you ain't going to surprise nobody. So you better be prepared to just line up and make sure you play really well. And that's what we talked about after the last game. That's what we talked about between periods last game."
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said he expects a much stronger start and better game this time.
"Played a real loose hockey game where we weren't connected as a group," Mitchell said of Game 1. "For some reason didn't have jump. You can just feel it around here. Guys are in a better place and ready to go, and I know you'll see a much better effort from our hockey club."
Not surprisingly, the Sharks used the same lines and defensive pairs during their morning skate and likely won't make any changes for Game 2. Sutter said he doesn't expect any changes to his lineup either.
Here are the projected lineups:
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels
Raffi Torres - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Brad Stuart - Justin Braun
Scott Hannan - Dan Boyle
Scratched: Matt Irwin, Matt Tennyson, Marty Havlat, Bracken Kearns, Tyler Kennedy
Injured: Adam Burish (hand)
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Tyler Toffoli - Jarret Stoll - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell - Alec Martinez
Scratched: Matt Greene, Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey