SAN JOSE -- The towels move in unison. The giant Shark head descends from the ceiling. Smoke fills the area where it is going to end up on the ice.
SAP Center is one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, and fans of the San Jose Sharks get worked into a frenzy even before the opening faceoff. The Sharks went on the attack early against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of this Western Conference First Round series, and they fed off the energy created by both their play and the fans in a raucous atmosphere.
NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Perry Pearn to break down the action. Pearn will be checking in throughout the series. Pearn has spent the past 18 seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and a second tenure with the Jets in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
"The one thing I've always noticed when you go into San Jose is it's a tough building to play in. They are a very, very good home team," Pearn said. "The momentum got rolling San Jose's way, and it almost seemed to me like L.A. decided, 'Well, OK, we're going to try to get back in this by getting on the attack,' but I thought what really hurt them, and it's an area the Kings are usually so good in, is they had a lot of turnovers that created scoring chances and created zone time for San Jose. That just kind of fed into the momentum.
"The key goal to me was right at the end of the first period. If L.A. gets out of that period, even though they didn't play very well, if they get out 2-0 they go to the room with more belief they can back into it."
San Jose pushed the pace against Los Angeles, and the typically composed Kings did not respond in a positive manner. The Sharks controlled the opening period and added a pair of late goals to make the score line look more like what had transpired.
Each team loves to possess the puck, but the Kings struggled to get out of their zone without having to give it up. It became a cycle of momentum for the Sharks, as they continued to hem the Kings in from shift to shift.
If the Kings are going to improve in Game 2 on Sunday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-W, CSN-CA) at SAP Center, they are going to have to find a better way to combat the Sharks territorially.
"You have to talk about the little things," Pearn said. "One of the things I'd be pushing on the bench is I'd say, 'Let's make sure we are getting the puck behind their defense. Let's go finish some checks and see if we can create some zone time.'
"What happens when games are getting away is lines go out there, and if you're caught in your end for like 25-30 seconds, you finally get the puck and you get going, but you've already expended all your energy trying to get it back, so there is nothing left to attack with it. You have to be patient enough to say, 'OK, we can't attack, but let's get it down there in the right place and hopefully we can change the momentum by doing that so we don't get in more trouble.'"
Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer