The Sharks have returned to familiar territory from their last trip to the playoffs, having taken the first two games on the road against the Kings. After squandering a 3-0 lead in the first round against Los Angeles two years ago, however, the Sharks are far from overconfident even though they’re back in the Bay Area with an early edge in the series. In the history of the NHL playoffs, teams that have won the first two games on the road have an all-time series record of 65-18.
“What’s happened in the past, it’s in the past,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “You take those lessons. You try to become a better teammate from those, better player. We’re still trying to win four games in this series and we got two. It’s a good start for us, and we realize there’s more work.”
San Jose controlled much of the first two games, allowing just one even-strength goal. That’s not a new development. The Sharks have played like that frequently on the road, where they had the NHL’s best regular-season record.
Transferring that success to home ice has been the problem. San Jose’s 18 home wins were the fewest of any playoff team in 2015-16.
In order to maintain their momentum, the Sharks must continue to keep Kings stars Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Tyler Toffoli quiet. Each of the three players tallied 50-plus points in the regular season, but the trio has been limited to a lone assist by Kopitar in this series.
The return of right wing Marian Gaborik after a two-month absence to a knee injury gave the Kings a boost in Game 2, but they’ll need more Monday in Game 3.
“We’ve got to stop playing with frustration and start using our emotion in the right way, because frustration is a waste of emotion,” Kings left wing Milan Lucic said. “We’ve got to go out there with determination and start playing our game.”