SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer understands the challenge of trying to dig your way out of a huge hole in the Stanley Cup Final.
He said Tuesday the message to his players entering Game 5 of the Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) will be similar to the one he gave to his players with the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 Cup Final.
The Sharks trail the Penguins 3-1 in the best-of-7 series. DeBoer and the Devils lost the first three games of the 2012 Final but won Games 4 and 5. They lost the series in six games.
"Everyone was writing us off," DeBoer said before traveling to Pittsburgh. "We just took the approach, 'Why not us? I don't care what the record book says, that only one or two teams have come back from this situation, whatever those numbers are. Why can't we be the first team to do it?' It starts with one game, and I think that's the approach that we're going to take."
The Sharks lost Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh by one goal each. They beat the Penguins by one goal in Game 3 at SAP Center but lost 3-1 in Game 4 on Monday in San Jose.
Game 4 marked the first time the Sharks outshot the Penguins in a game in the series (24-20), but they allowed the first goal for the fourth straight game and have yet to play at any point with the lead.
"We want to win one game and get a Game 6 back here at home," DeBoer said. "I think we would be comfortable in that spot that we could get it to go seven. But short-term, I think we've got to go in and win one road game. We've been the best road team in the League all year. It's not going to be easy. Yeah, I think our game has grown through the series. I think we cleaned some things up. We limited their shots last game from earlier in the series.
"I thought every game, we created a little bit more chances to score. I think our big guys have gotten more shots off and more looks as the series has gone on. We're doing some good stuff, but you can't change the fact that we've played behind the entire series, and that's something that we have to get fixed."
The Sharks had a League-best 28-10-3 road record during the regular season but are 5-6 in 11 games away from home during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the second period Monday, DeBoer juggled his lines and shortened his bench midway through the period. Second-line center Logan Couture replaced Melker Karlsson at left wing on the top line with center Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. In the third period, second-line forward Joonas Donskoi moved to left wing on the top line with Thornton and Pavelski. Fourth-line forwards Tommy Wingels and Dainius Zubrus didn't see the ice after the halfway point of the second period.
As much as he wants his team to score first, DeBoer downplayed the idea of opening Game 5 with the lines he used during the second half of Game 4.
"I don't know if switching the lines up is the answer to getting the lead," he said. "We've shortened the bench the last two games because we've been behind. It's not ideal. Catches up to you, especially when you're this deep into the playoffs and have played as many games as we have and have logged as many miles as we have. It's been more out of necessity. There's a saying that you dance with the girl you brought to the dance, and I think that's going to probably be our approach here going forward."
First-line left wing Tomas Hertl missed Games 3 and 4 because of a lower-body injury, and DeBoer said there's a chance he will play again in the Final.
"Improvement every day that I've seen him," DeBoer said. "Hopeful, yes. I term him as day-to-day. This time of year, guys find an inner strength and play with injuries. That's just what these guys do at this level. I'm not ruling him out for any games."