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Sharks need more desperation in Game 3 on Sunday

Coach Peter DeBoer wants added intensity in first home game after split in Edmonton

by Tim Campbell / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- More desperation will be San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer's biggest wish when the Western Conference First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers resumes with Game 3 at SAP Center on Sunday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, NBCS-CA).

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 after the Oilers won 2-0 in Game 2 on Friday in Edmonton.

"That's what I would expect," DeBoer said Saturday before the Sharks flew back to San Jose. "They definitely came out hungry and harder than us in Game 2. Like I said, we expected that and they got the job done. Now we're even.

"This is playoff hockey. We would have definitely taken 1-1 coming out of two games in Edmonton, and we'll regroup and go home and get ready and make sure Game 3 is our best game."

DeBoer said manipulating desperation and urgency is not usually possible, that it's an organic quality to any series.

"We played maybe one of the best games we've played all year in Game 1," he said. "To their credit, they responded in Game 2. That's what's going to happen. There's no coaxing anything out or coaching anything out. That's playoff hockey. It's whatever team over seven games can impose their game on the other team the most.

"You're going to get games where you lose that battle and you're going to get games where you win it. I think we've seen one of each so far."

The Sharks have had a decided advantage in power plays (12-7) and power-play time (23:58 to 12:15) in the first two game. They were 1-for-6 in Game 1, a 3-2 overtime victory, but went 0-for-6 in Game 2 and allowed two shorthanded goals.

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"You can't overreact to that that," DeBoer said of the power-play struggles. "I think our power play in the second game mimicked our 5-on-5 play; we weren't hungry enough and we got outworked in a lot of areas. We just have to get back at it. I liked it in Game 1 and I didn't like it in Game 2, just like our 5-on-5 play."

Captain Joe Pavelski said there is much to like about the split in Edmonton.

"Besides our execution on the power play, we've done a lot of good things to draw some penalties," he said. "We just have to get that power play, make it a little bit more dangerous."

DeBoer conceded that the return of injured center Joe Thornton could help the power play, but it's unknown when or if he'll be able to play. Thornton sustained a knee injury on April 2; he has missed the final three games of the regular season and the first two games of this series. He's been skating but there is no word on whether he'll be ready to play during the series.

"Joe Thornton would help us in a lot of different areas, including that, but we don't have him and we've got to find a way with the group we do have," DeBoer said. "We did in Game 1 and we didn't in Game 2 so we'll get back to it in Game 3."

The Sharks had good injury news with center Logan Couture, a 25-goal scorer who missed the final seven games of the season after taking a puck to the face. Couture returned to the lineup for Game 1 of the series wearing a full cage and survived some first-hand experience with the physicality of playoff hockey in the two games in Edmonton.

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In Game 1, he took an elbow to the head from Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba, drawing a penalty. In Game 2, he was bowled over by a heavy check from Edmonton right wing Zack Kassian. But he took a regular shift in each game and played a total of 39:52. He had no points and one shot on goal in each game.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the contact or punishment," DeBoer said of Couture's lack of scoring in Games 1 and 2. "This guy played games of tough playoff hockey last year in the Stanley Cup Final. The reality is that he missed the last three weeks of the season with a serious injury and he's working his way back in. You're seeing a little bit of rust but he's getting better every night."

Protecting Couture is not a concern, DeBoer said.

"That's playoff hockey," he said. "This isn't the first team that's tried to be physical on key guys. Logan Couture has been targeted for physicality his whole life, being the player he is. It's not an issue."

DeBoer said after Game 2 that the series was now looking like a long one.

"So we knew we'd get their best game and I thought even into the third (period), we still had a chance to win it," he said of Game 2. "It was a 1-0 game. If we could have found a way to get one. But we didn't do enough to win that game and we leave Edmonton with a split, which is what we wanted coming in here. Now we've got to go home and play really well at home."

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