LAS VEGAS -- Gerard Gallant had a message for the Vegas Golden Knights heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).
"We've got to be better," the coach said Thursday, one day after a 4-0 loss at San Jose tied the best-of-7 series 2-2. "We've got to be ready to play, be ready to compete. And I'm sure we will."
This is the biggest game the expansion Golden Knights will play to this point of their season, but it's crucial for each team. When a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 holds a series record of 202-54 (78.9 percent).
[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Sharks series coverage]
Vegas forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said he isn't focused on the series outcome, just the game Friday.
"I'm not thinking two out of three right now," Bellemare said, referring to Game 5 and a Game 7 scheduled for T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, should the series go that far. "I'm just thinking about tomorrow. We're playing in front of our crowd, we're coming home."
Though the Golden Knights didn't want to harp on their performance in Game 4, when they were 0-for-5 on the power play and were shut out for the first time in the playoffs, they said they need to learn from it.
"Yesterday was not our best day," Bellemare said. "There's nothing we can do about that now except looking at tapes and making sure we're better tomorrow."
Video: VGK@SJS, Gm4: Donskoi goes end to end late in 1st
Gallant said the Golden Knights need to improve in the crease.
"We just didn't get in the blue paint enough, in those tough areas, the battle areas, and that's what we need to do," he said.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in Game 4 but allowed a goal by Joonas Donskoi from the high slot with six seconds left in the first period that gave San Jose a 2-0 lead and seemed to deflate Vegas.
"It's a little mentally tougher when you let in a goal like that," Golden Knights forward Tomas Tatar said. "We had our chances before then. We could've tied the game. Instead, it was 2-0 by the end of the first."
The Golden Knights swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and have alternated wins and losses with the Sharks, setting the stage for the first Game 5 in Vegas postseason history.
"At the end of the day it's playoffs. It's fun," Bellemare said. "It's an honor to get a shot at [the Stanley Cup]. Tomorrow we just have to be better than yesterday."
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