Attempting to defeat the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. But playing in a Game 7 at any venue does.
That’s why the Sharks are looking forward to Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night game in Los Angeles. The Kings have won 13 home games in a row dating back to the regular season, but Game 7s have a way of turning their noses at trends and producing a story of their own.
“It’s one game. This is what we play for,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “It’s exciting. We have to win in their building. It’s a Game 7. It’s going to be fun.”
The home team has won every game of this series so far, and the Kings played their best game of the series at home in Game 5. The Sharks were sharp in Sunday’s win in Game 6, and played better as the game progressed. They’ll need to try to take that momentum with them as they head South for the decider.
“We really don’t have anything to lose,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re going to play Game 7 against the Stanley Cup champs in their building. We look forward to that challenge.”
The consensus is the Sharks will need a strong start to win on the road in Game 7. The team that has scored the first goal has won every game in the series, and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick isn’t the kind of guy you want to play catch-up against.
“We wanted this opportunity,” Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. “We wanted to go play. We feel like we’ve played some good games there before. It’s been awhile since we’ve won, so we’re due.”
Although the home team is undefeated in the series, it’s not like the visiting team has been completely dominated or not had its chances to win on the road. The Sharks held a 3-2 lead at Staples Center in Game 2 before a couple of late penalties allowed the Kings to come back for the win. All three of San Jose’s home wins have been tight. The Sharks had to withstand a flurry of pressure from Los Angeles to hold on for their win in Game 4.
“It’s followed the script,” McLellan said. “It’s time for us to get there and try to change the story. Obviously, we’re going to have to play a much better game than we did the last time in that building. They earned the right for home ice. It’s our job to take it away from them.”
A win in Game 7 would send the Sharks to the Western Conference finals for the third time in four years. San Jose would love a chance to play in front of their home fans again. With the season on the line Sunday, the Sharks were buoyed by a deafening crowd at the Shark Tank, where good times continue to be had.
Now, it’s a matter of silencing what figures to be the Staples Center version of a deafening crowd.
“It’s great playing in this place,” Pavelski said. “Now we’ll bottle it up and take it over there.”