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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sharks face King-size task

Down 0-2, it's a good thing they rarely lose on home ice

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A dizzying 22-second span that led to a pair of Los Angeles power play goals turned what appeared to be destined to be a tied series into an 0-2 hole for the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks players say it didn't take much longer than that for them to put their Game 2 collapse behind them and turn their focus to defending home ice the next two games so they can tie their second-round series with the Kings.

"Coming in today, we could have been hanging our heads and moping around," defenceman Brad Stuart said Friday. "But I don't sense that at all. Obviously, guys aren't feeling good about what happened (Thursday) night but when you look at the big picture, we feel good about knowing what we have to do and what we can control."

So instead of looking back at the two late penalties that led to the two power-play goals that turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 loss, the Sharks would rather bank on the fact that they managed to score three goals against Jonathan Quick, outplayed the Stanley Cup champions for much of the night and now have home-ice advantage for the next two games beginning tonight in Game 3.

San Jose lost just twice in regulation at home all season, winning both meetings against the Kings and both games in a first-round sweep against Vancouver.

"We did a lot of really good things," forward Logan Couture said. "I thought we deserved to win that game. But we're down 2-0. It's time to come into our building. It's going to be loud. The fans are going to be into it. We have to find a way to win."

The biggest areas of concern for San Jose are on the special teams that dominated the first round. The Sharks are 0-for-7 on the power play although they did score 5 seconds after Alec Martinez came out of the box Thursday night and allowed three power-play goals to the Kings in Game 2.

The Sharks appeared on their way to tying the series when they took a 3-2 lead into the closing minutes in Los Angeles on Thursday night. But that all changed after Stuart was called for tripping Tyler Toffoli with 2:41 to play.

The situation only got more dire seconds later when San Jose defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic flipped the puck into the stands for a two-minute delay of game penalty that irked the Sharks because they thought the puck deflected off Jeff Carter's shoulder.

"It clearly changed directions," Vlasic said. "I'll leave it at that."

Dustin Brown then converted a rebound on a 5-on-3 advantage to tie the game with 1:43 left. Before the Sharks could settle down, the Kings scored the game-winner when Trevor Lewis scored on a rebound 22 seconds later.

The Kings became just the third team since at least 1987-88 to win a playoff game in regulation when losing in the final two minutes, according to STATS LLC. Los Angeles knows it can't always count on a late-game escape to win.

"It was one of those games where we weren't as sharp as we wanted to be, but in the end, we pulled it off," centre Anze Kopitar said. "Sometimes that happens, but we realize we've got to play better."

The Kings have plenty of experience building on a 2-0 playoff lead, having won the first three games in all four rounds last year on the way to their first Stanley Cup.

They were on the other end in the first round, having dropped the first two games in St. Louis in rather painful fashion when they allowed a short-handed goal in overtime by Alexander Steen after a misplay by Quick and a game-winning goal by Barret Jackman in the final minute of Game 2.

Los Angeles answered with four straight wins to eliminate the Blues followed by the two wins over the Sharks.

"We've had that experience this playoff already. I mean, we were down 2-0 in the last series. We were out of the series," coach Darryl Sutter said. "We were down 2-0 early in Game 4. We were out of the game. That's what playoffs are about. It's sort of frustrating to answer those questions, quite honestly, because our playoffs are four out of seven series, which means generally, when you break it down, every series goes six games, which means somebody wins four and if you do your math, somebody loses two. You don't win every period, you don't win every shift, and you don't win every game."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 C2

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