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Sharks Wished They Had Closed It Out

by Jim Sparaco / San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 Saturday night at HP Pavilion and with the loss, the Sharks lost a chance to wrap up their first round playoff series over their long-time division rival. The Sharks will now be forced to travel back to Los Angeles on Sunday for a crucial Game 6 at the Staples Center.

“It was a missed opportunity and that’s where it’s got to end,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said shortly after the game. “Just a couple poor mental mistakes early cost us three goals, but the work ethic was there. The heart was there. It was just a missed opportunity.”

“We would’ve liked to have finished it off tonight,” added Patrick Marleau. “But we’ll talk about this one tomorrow and then move on. We’ll try to finish it off in their building.”

"It was unacceptable to let this game slip away," Logan Couture said.  "We had a 3-1 lead coming into this rink, playing in front of this crowd.  They were fired up.  We expect more from this team in the first 10 minutes of a game, especially when you've got a team on the brink of elimination."

Although favored in the series as the Western Conference’s No. 2-seed, nobody in the Sharks locker room has taken the No. 7-seeded King’s lightly. As expected, the series continues to be physical with both teams getting a lot of scoring opportunities.

“At the start of the game we had good energy, we had some good chances. We just didn’t execute. It was just a little bit mental,” said forward Ryane Clowe. “But we didn’t win. With the chances we created we obviously did some pretty good things five-on-five. We created some good chances down low and around the net. The chances we had on the power play, we’ve got to find a way to put some in.”

Heading back down to L.A. isn’t exactly dire straits for the Sharks. The Sharks marched into Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 of the series and came home with victories in both games including an electrifying 6-5 overtime victory in Game 3 when they scored five goals in the second period to erase an early 0-4 deficit.

“We’ve played in their building. We’ve won some games. We know the atmosphere. We’ll buckle them up and see what we can do,” added Head Coach Todd McLellan. “One thing with our group is that we play better when we are uncomfortable. We’ve eliminated that now.”

And although ending the first-round playoff series in five games would’ve been a welcome luxury for the Sharks, recent history has shown that the Sharks know how to win on the road. Last season the Sharks dispatched of the Colorado Avalanche in six games after trailing in the series 2-1.

The Sharks aren’t the only team in the Western Conference to see their first-round series extended to six games as both the Vancouver-Chicago and Anaheim-Nashville series will continue for at least one more game to determine which team will advance. At this time, only the Detroit Red Wings, a possible second-round opponent for the Sharks, have advanced to Round 2 in the Western Conference. The Red Wings completed a sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night and now must sit and wait for an opponent.

The Sharks will practice Sunday before flying to Los Angeles for Monday’s contest.

“We have to refocus and go and win Game 6 down in L.A.,” said Sharks Captain Joe Thornton. “It’s the playoffs, anything can happen. We realize this. We realize it’s going to be a long and hard series. We expected that they were going to try to come quick. I thought we played well for 60 (minutes) but not well enough. We’ll have to be better next game.”

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