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Sharks Look For Improved Performance

by Jonathan Okanes / San Jose Sharks

Center Logan Couture was pointing fingers after the Sharks loss Thursday night - most notably, at himself.

“We were bad tonight, myself included,” Couture said after San Jose dropped a 3-0 decision to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Staples Center. “That’s the reason we lost. We’re not going to win if our best players are not our best players. That’s reality. We need to step up.”

Players like Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau had made an impact through the first four games of the series, but the Kings were able to silence them and other top Sharks on Thursday. Part of that was due to improved play by Los Angeles, but the Sharks feel like they didn’t play to their potential.

“You have to give L.A. credit. They played well, too,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “But our go-to guys weren’t particularly sharp tonight. When that happens, your depth has to come through as well. They have to provide a spark. Logan is very accurate in those comments, but this was a team loss. This wasn’t just a few guys.”

The Sharks were especially dissatisfied with their power play. San Jose went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage and didn’t at any point muster much of a scoring threat. During two of the power plays, the Kings spent a sustained stretch in the San Jose zone.

“When we put those types of players out on the power play, we should be able to execute a lot better than we did,” McLellan said.

The Sharks had scored four goals in the previous two games combined, and three of those came on the power play. Both games ended up as San Jose wins, including a 2-1 victory in Game 3 when both goals came with the man-advantage.

“It kind of looked like it was a little bit nervous for some reason,” Thornton said of the Sharks’ power play unit. “I don’t know why. For whatever reason, we just didn’t have poise on the power play. If our power play is going good, you can see guys get some confidence. When it doesn’t, you can see guys kind of get down. That’s what happened tonight.”

While the Sharks now face elimination in the best-of-seven series, they can be confident knowing Game 6 is at HP Pavilion. The home team has won every game in the series so far, and both the Sharks and Kings have been dominant in their own buildings during the regular season and playoffs.

“You have to be confident,” Couture said. “The season is on the line. We’re playing for our lives. I expect us to be a desperate team. I expect our best players to be way better, myself included, in Game 6.”

The Sharks can feel even better about home-ice advantage because the success of the home team is a league-wide trend. Entering Thursday, 67.2% of playoff games this season had been won by the home team. Not since 1993 have the home teams won more than 60 percent of their games.

“It’s just a loss,” Thornton said. “Now we have to go up North and win.”

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