SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at SAP Center on Wednesday to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series.
Each game has been decided by one goal. San Jose had a 3-0 series lead in 2014 against Los Angeles but lost four straight games.
What we learned: A sleeping giant eventually awakens. The Kings have taken bad penalties throughout this series but got away with it for the most part. The Sharks had the third-best power play in the regular season but were 2-for-14, and allowed a shorthanded goal, in the first three games. In Game 4, the Sharks scored on three of their first four power plays, completely changing the dynamic of what had been an even game through the first 22 minutes. Defenseman Brent Burns scored at 2:09 of the second period after Kings center Jeff Carter took a roughing penalty in a scrum around the San Jose net. Joe Pavelski then scored his fourth goal of the series after defenseman Rob Scuderi hauled down Tomas Hertl during a goal-scoring chance. Patrick Marleau added what turned out to be a vital goal with defenseman Jamie McBain in the box for high-sticking at the start of the third period.
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm4: Pavelski buries Thornton's pass for PPG
What this means for the Sharks: A boost of confidence. The last time the Sharks lost to the Kings in the playoffs, they didn't win again. The Sharks lost Game 4 and were outscored 12-2 in the next three. This time, the Sharks answered a loss to the Kings with what was their best performance of this series. They played a disciplined game, bottled up the Kings attack, and frustrated Los Angeles until a desperate third period from the visitors. Plus, the Sharks scored big goals, from their big guns, when they needed them most.
What this means for the Kings: No more room for error. Doughty said Wednesday morning the Kings won Game 3 because they treated it as their last game of the season, choosing to believe they could not rally in another 3-0 series against the Sharks. Now the Kings face the real possibility of playing their last game. Lose Game 5 on Friday and their season, so full of promise a week ago, will end. The Kings will need a desperate, but disciplined, outing in Game 5 to stay alive, something similar to the way they played the final 18 minutes of Game 4.
Key moment: It seemed inconsequential at the time, but the Marleau power-play goal proved to be crucial, turning into the game-winner when the Sharks wobbled to the finish line. It was a beautiful goal: Marleau settled a bouncing puck with his skate and, while the puck was still spinning, shoveled it into the net by banking it off the near post. It was Marleau's first goal of the series.
Video: LAK@SJS, Gm4: Marleau backhands it home for PPG
Unsung player of the game: Sharks forward Melker Karlsson. The third-line right wing is valued for his ability to get in on the forecheck and hound the puck, making transition difficult for the opposition. He was in top form for much of the game in that role. He blocked shots, he levied hits, he stole pucks and, in general, wreaked havoc on the Kings' attempts to get a clean entry into the attacking zone.
What's next: Game 5 is at Staples Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-CA, PRIME). The Sharks will be desperate to close things out on the home ice of their fiercest rival, especially because they know how dangerous the Kings are when given extra life.