Sharks Even Series with Kings 2-2

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The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks both entered their Western Conference semifinal match-up on four-game winning steaks, but only the team with home ice has stayed hot in their current series.

After winning the first two games at home, the Kings have dropped the past two games in San Jose, including game four on Tuesday night by a final score of 2-1. The defending Stanley Cup champions still technically have home ice advantage in the series, but the momentum has clearly shifted to the San Jose’s side for now. But to win the series, the Sharks know they have to carry that momentum over to game five in L.A.

“We knew going into this series we’d have to win one game at Staples Center if we want to win this series,” Sharks center Logan Couture said, according to ESPN.com. “We’ve done our job at home. We need to go into L.A. and win a game on Thursday. We’re looking forward to it.”

San Jose took advantage of its home crowd in the early going and outshot the Kings 15-3 in the opening period, with one of those shots finding the back of the net. Brent Burns’ first period goal put the Sharks up 1-0 and got that all important momentum rolling.

After a a second-period goal from Couture on the power play put the Sharks up 2-0, the Kings started to find some success. Los Angeles outshot San Jose 14-2 in the final period and even scored with just over nine minutes to play, but the Sharks had just enough in the tank to hold off the Kings’ final surge, backed by 13 Antti Niemi saves. Holding on to the victory was huge, but San Jose knows they have to be able to sustain a strong 60-minute performance each time out if it wants to win the series.

“In the third it’s typical, unfortunately the way it goes, usually teams are a little bit on their heels and the other team is pressuring, and you’re just trying to find a way,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “Obviously that’s not the way we want to play, but that’s the way it happens. A win’s a win. That’s what I’ve been talking about. We’re in a good place right now, and it’s only going to get harder.”

The Kings were happy were their second-half play, but feel they didn’t learn from the game three loss. They’ll have to learn from this one to rebound in game five.

“For us, it’s about how they dominated the first half of the game and then we dominated the second half of the game,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “But they buried their chances. They play well here and we didn’t learn from Game 3, so that’s on us for not learning from our own mistakes.”

All signs are pointing to this series going seven games, but I’d stick with the defending champions. Both teams have not lost a game on their home ice this postseason and since the Kings still have the advantage in that department, look for them to pull out the win in seven.

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