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Kings, up 2-0, wary of desperate Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Los Angeles Kings know how dangerous a team can be when it comes home after digging a 2-0 hole in a Stanley Cup Playoff series.

The Kings lost their first two games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the St. Louis Blues on the road then reeled off four straight wins to capture that series. After that, the Kings opened the semifinals with two straight wins against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center.

Which brings us to Game 3 on Saturday night at HP Pavilion (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

"Yeah, we're aware of what we did in the first round, but coming in here, it's a tough building to play in," Kings captain Dustin Brown said after his team's morning skate. "We have to be ready to go. The main thing is we have to take care of our game. We have to play better as a group and for 60 minutes. That's what we should be focused on. We've got to worry about our game and the rest will take care of itself."

The Kings can expect to see a desperate Sharks team that fully understands what's on the line. Three teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 playoff series. This may not be a must-win game mathematically, but the Sharks need to win to have a realistic chance of surviving.

"It's playoff hockey," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "You have to be desperate. When you're down 2-0 you have to be very, very desperate. We know we need this win tonight."

Forward TJ Galiardi said the Sharks haven't been shaken by back-to-back losses.

"We're a confident group in here," Galiardi said. "We play our game at home and it will take care of itself. ... We know if we play our style of game we will win. It's more a thing of confidence. We know we're the better team."

The scoreboard has told a different story so far, and when it comes to special teams, the Kings have clearly been better. Los Angeles scored three power play goals in its 4-3 Game 2 win, including two in a 22-second span with less than two minutes remaining. The Kings are 3-for-7 on the power play in the series.

The Sharks are 0-for-7 after going 7-for-24 in their quarterfinal sweep of the Vancouver Canucks.

"Our PK's been good when it needs to be, but the most important thing is staying out of the box and not taking dumb penalties or after-the-whistle penalties," Kings forward Trevor Lewis said. "That's when you get yourself into trouble. We just have to keep staying disciplined. When our PK has to be good, it needs to be."

The Sharks' first goal in Game 2 came seconds after one of their power plays ended, when Patrick Marleau took a pass from Joe Thornton and beat goaltender Jonathan Quick.

"They pretty much get a power-play goal the last game with the guy coming out of the box," Brown said. "We've been better on our up-ice pressure, disrupting their [entries]. They have a lot of different plays where they get easy entries because of the way their power play works. It's been pretty dynamic, and we've been doing a pretty good job of getting them to put pucks in where they can't get them back. That's a big part of it, and the other part is just our work ethic on the PK. Our power play, it's been opportunistic, that's for sure."

Defenseman Drew Doughty, Brown and Lewis each scored a power-play goal in Game 2. Brown's came with a 5-on-3 advantage to tie the score.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said "there are some changes" they've made on special teams since their Game 2 loss.

"There's some polish that has to go into it," he said. "We end up zero on the power play, but in my opinion we got one. So that's a good thing. We moved the puck around well there. The penalty kill, that's a tough one because of the goals that were scored. The first one, we made some mistakes. We'd like to have that one back. The second one's a quick 5-on-3 where anything can happen, and then the last one's a rebound. Different types of goals that they scored. Areas to improve on? Yes. And we'll have to if we want to continue on."

The Sharks are counting on a huge home-ice advantage in Game 3. They went 17-2-5 at HP Pavilion during the regular season and 2-0 against Vancouver. The Sharks, Kings and Chicago Blackhawks each had 39 points at home in the regular season, tied for first in the NHL. The Sharks had fewer regulation losses at home than any team.

"It's going to be crazy," Marleau said. "The fans here are great and are going to bring it tonight for sure."

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