SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks proved they could beat the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion, winning Games 3 and 4 to pull even in their Western Conference Semifinal series.
Now comes the hard part for San Jose: The series shifts back to Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 5.
The Sharks have lost all four of their road games this season against the Kings, two in the regular season and two in the postseason. The Kings have won five straight Stanley Cup Playoff games on home ice and 12 straight games overall. They've gone 24-4-1 this season in L.A.
"Well, their record proves they're a pretty darn good team there, and they have been for a number of years," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday after a team meeting and optional practice. "The energy that they gather from their fans is a factor as well.
"We know that for us to accomplish our goal, we have to take something away from them in their building. This crack is our first chance at it, and it could be our last, so we may as well do what we can right off the bat."
The Sharks are coming off a 2-1 win Tuesday in Game 4. They came out with energy and aggression and took an early 1-0 lead on a goal from Brent Burns, then made it 2-0 in the second period with a Logan Couture power-play tally.
The Sharks barely withstood a furious Kings comeback in the third.
"I think we have to continue being an aggressive team," McLellan said. "Last night was a prime example of it: very aggressive in the first half of the game, not so aggressive in the second half. It was really two different games that we played.”
After Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick shut them out 2-0 in Game 1, the Sharks nearly left Los Angeles with a split. The Sharks had a 3-2 lead with under two minutes to play in Game 2, but the Kings scored back-to-back power-play goals to win 4-3. The first came with a two-man advantage after defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic went to the box on a disputed delay of game penalty after sending the puck over the glass. The Sharks thought the puck deflected off Kings forward Jeff Carter.
"I thought our two games there were for the most part pretty solid," Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart said. "It’s just all about getting to the net and creating opportunities, something we didn’t do as well in Game 1 but we did better in Game 2. Let’s try to build off of that and get some opportunities and play the same way defensively."
Couture said the Kings "come out hard, come out forechecking" at Staples Center. The series has become more intense and chippy each game and that trend likely will continue Thursday in Los Angeles.
"We've got to be ready for their push early on and we've got to get our game established early on the road and go from there," Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said. "Obviously we're expecting their best, and we have to be ready for that."
Couture was shaken up in the second period of Game 4 in a mid-ice collision with Kings captain Dustin Brown. The Sharks forward was less than pleased.
"He saw me," Couture said after the game. "I wasn' t looking. He saw me and hit me and then he dove after the hit to make it look like he ran into me. That's the way he plays."
Sharks forward TJ Galiardi took a swipe Wednesday at Quick, who has aggressively defended his crease and earned a game misconduct for verbal abuse of the referees after Game 3.
"The thing that kind of bugs me about him -- I don't know if I should say it -- but a little embellishment every now and then," Galiardi said. "You skate by and you don't even touch him or you barely even touch him and he's throwing his hands in the air. It's playoffs. Everyone's trying to draw a penalty. Whatever."
At one point in Game 4, Galiardi made contact with Quick and the latter went to the ice, but there was no penalty.
"The thing is, with video, something we like to say around here is, 'Ball don't lie.'" Galiardi said. "It's an old basketball term. But when you watch the video, the video doesn't lie. So I'm skating by and I barely touch him and he's throwing his hand in the air. He looks bad on video, not me."