NASHVILLE -- The San Jose Sharks believe they have a higher level of play they can reach after a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their Western Conference Second Round series at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.
The Sharks weren't happy with their even-strength play in Game 2 and thought they showed some improvement 5-on-5 in Game 3 despite the loss. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer thought his team was better in that area but said they didn't capitalize on their chances.
"I actually liked our 5-on-5 game better than I did [in Game 2]," DeBoer said. "I still don't think we played as well as we can. I still think we have another level, but I thought there was improvement on our end. We had some really good looks. We could have had two or three goals. I thought the difference [Tuesday] was special teams. [The Predators] got a couple of power play goals, and we didn't cash in."
San Jose leads the best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 here on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports 2).
Special teams was a major factor in San Jose's first two wins of the series and in Nashville's win in Game 3. The Predators went 2-for-5 on the power play after scoring two power-play goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before Game 3. The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Video: SJS@NSH, Gm3: Neal beats Jones with a short-side shot
"You're not going to win every game," DeBoer said. "It's the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This might take seven games. It's that time of year. They are a good team. You have to give them credit. I thought we came out and played a pretty good game. They won the special teams battle tonight, we won it the other night. That's how it works this time of year."
The Sharks, after scoring seven of their eight goals in the third period in Games 1 and 2, expected the Predators to come out with their best effort of the series.
San Jose got off to a quicker start in Game 3 with forward Patrick Marleau's goal 13:13 into the first period but Nashville took over from there.
Video: SJS@NSH, Gm3: Forsberg's perfect shot beats Jones
"We knew they were going to be a lot better tonight," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "A lot harder, and as series' go on it's always like that. It wasn't anything we didn't expect. Our guys came out early, and we played a solid game early. We got that lead in a tough environment where they start at home really well."
The Sharks were in this same situation in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings. They were up 2-1 in the series and went on to win the next two games to eliminate the Kings. That killer instinct will be something the Sharks need again in Game 4.
"It's a different series, but any time you can be up in a series it's a good thing," Sharks goaltender Martin Jones said. "We want to make sure we come with a better mindset next game and a better effort. This isn't a team you want to let back in the series."