Published April 22, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - Following a pair of lopsided losses in San Jose to begin the Western Conference quarterfinals, the Los Angeles Kings will aim for a better showing in front of the home crowd Tuesday at the Staples Center.
Down 2-0 in the series, the Kings host Game 3 against a Sharks team that simply dominated them in the first two meetings of the best-of-seven series at SAP Center.
Los Angeles trailed 5-0 en route to a 6-3 loss in Game 1. On Sunday, the Kings actually led 2-0 before San Jose scored seven unanswered goals to post a 7-2 blowout win and take a two-game lead in the series.
Although losing by wide margins in Games 1 and 2 did not look good, the Kings and Sharks both know this series is far from over.
Last spring, L.A. managed to come back from down 2-0 to win its first-round series in six games against the St. Louis Blues. In the next round, the Kings won all four of their home tilts to outlast San Jose in seven games. Of course, the Sharks also went 3-0 at home in that series and hold home-ice advantage in the 2014 rematch.
Including the playoffs, Los Angeles has won eight straight and 10 of its last 11 home games against the Sharks. If the Kings fail to extend that home streak tonight, the club will face a do-or-die Game 4 on home ice this Thursday.
All told, The Kings went 23-14-4 on home ice during the regular season. San Jose was 22-15-4.
Kings forward Justin Williams did his best to sum up his team's situation following Sunday's setback.
"It obviously stinks sitting here, talking after another lopsided loss," said Williams. "But they did what they set out to do and now it's response time. We're going back to our arena. We won the first two in our arena last year and they came back and won the next two in theirs. So we're looking to repeat that, but we need to start with one."
Joe Pavelski collected a goal and two assists to lead the way in San Jose's Game 2 victory. Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture added a score and a helper each for the Sharks, who managed to score more in the first two games of this year's series (13) than in all of last year's seven-game loss to the Kings (10).
Mike Brown, Raffi Torres, Joe Thornton and Justin Braun also recorded tallies, while Antti Niemi shook off a shaky first period to record a 24-save victory.
"It's just been a couple of great nights for us offensively," Braun said. "Shored up a few things defensively, Niemi has bailed us out a few times. But you can't be that disappointed with that many goals in two games. It's been good so far at home."
Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis provided first-period scores for the Kings, but L.A. failed to score over the final 50 minutes, 27 seconds of the game.
"I don't really know if it's one thing in particular," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Again, we gave up a lot of odd-man rushes. Even in the first (period) when we were up 2-0, they had a lot of good chances. We need all 20 guys to be on top of their game."
Jonathan Quick was left in net for all seven goals on 40 shots. The Conn Smythe winner when L.A. won the Stanley Cup in 2012, Quick has a dreadful 7.22 goals against average and .824 save percentage in the first two games of this set. He was pulled from Game 1 midway through the third period, but Kings head coach Darryl Sutter didn't blame his goaltender for Sunday's setback.
"I thought he was fine tonight," Sutter said of Quick. "He'll tell you that he struggled in the first game."
The 28-year-old Quick entered this postseason with a career playoff line of 29-21 with a 2.03 GAA and.929 save percentage. Quick's GAA now stands at 2.19 through 52 career playoff games and his save percentage has dipped to .924.