SAN JOSE -- Being ever the optimist about the Sharks, I pointed out to coach Todd McLellan on Friday that no team in franchise history has recovered from losing the first two games of a playoff series to come back and win it.
Being ever the advocate for his men, McLellan shot back: "We'd never swept a team in the playoffs, either."
His point was made. Earlier this month, the Sharks did indeed score their first four-game whitewash in postseason history with their sweep of Vancouver. In doing so, the current Sharks group did indeed show signs of being uncommon and atypical.
Now it's time for them to be even more viciously uncommon and ultra-savagely atypical.
They can start setting another franchise precedent on Saturday night with Game 3 at HP Pavilion. To be successful, they must quickly recover from Thursday's brutal defeat by the Los Angeles Kings, when the Sharks allowed two goals in the final two minutes to fall 4-3.
"I thought we deserved to win that game," said centerman Logan Couture on Friday, firmly. "But now 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."
Here's the best way to do that: By following the Kings' template.
For two decades, so many of us have pondered the mystery of why the Sharks can't push through the all-the-way barrier. We have puzzled over how they can be good enough to win so many NHL playoff games ... but never find exactly the right stuff to reach the Stanley Cup finals.
Except the mystery is genuinely no mystery. The Kings provided the answer Thursday. When provided the golden and fortunate opportunity of those two minutes to seize victory, they did. It helps explain why they're the defending champs.
Oh, you can say that the Sharks received a string of bad breaks in those final moments. You'd be right.
You can say that the whole thing began with a tripping penalty taken by Brad Stuart that was inches away from not being a penalty because Stuart's stick nearly hit the puck instead of an opposing skate. And you'd be correct.
You can also say that the subsequent delay-of-game penalty against Marc-Edouard Vlasic that created a 5-on-3 situation was a crock because replays show the puck, before going over the glass, changed direction slightly and began spinning after it skimmed the body of L.A.'s Jeff Carter. And you might have a case.
Or you can say the Kings should have been whistled for more penalties, and that the Raffi Torres suspension is unfair, and that the Kings' Brad Richardson got away with plowing into Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at one point. And you'd be possibly correct.
But none of that should be the Sharks' takeaway from Thursday. The takeaway should be this: When the opportunity door opens, capitalization is mandatory. If the Sharks had scored on any of their four power plays Thursday -- or had built on their 3-2 lead by putting one or two more of their third-period shots past L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick -- then those last two ridiculous minutes wouldn't have mattered.
So. When the noise cranks up under the Tank roof in Game 3 and there's a chance to jump on the Kings early Saturday, the Sharks must jump. If Quick ever gets a smidgen out of position, the Sharks must score. When the Kings take a penalty, the Sharks need to pounce. During the regular season, they converted three of their eight power play chances against L.A., with rookie defenseman Matt Irwin owning two of the three goals. Perhaps that's a game plan. They just have to execute it.
McLellan said he has a sense that this 2013 version of the Sharks, being lower-seeded underdogs, is a more relaxed group. Scott Gomez, the Sharks forward who won two Stanley Cup rings with New Jersey, believes that the team's reaction to the Game 2 crusher was a positive sign. By the time the Sharks arrived home, Gomez could tell they were already looking ahead. As a Devil, he noticed how the New Jersey teams that won the Cup would put bitter defeats behind them almost immediately.
"That's the difference," Gomez said. "The teams that carry it over always have problems. When you're a young player, that makes an impression. We were always taught by all the older guys there -- they took care of home. You can lose in triple overtime or you can lose 6-0. It's a loss. We'll respond."
Responding. Seizing. Uncommonly. Atypically. Those are the key words if the Sharks intend to write a new franchise dictionary. Let's see if they pass their vocabulary test.
GAME 3: Los Angeles at Sharks, 6 p.m., NBCSN
G.M. Doug Wilson issues statement protesting NHL's decision to suspend Raffi Torres. PAGE 6
Sharks special teams, superb against the Canucks, have struggled vs. Kings. PAGE 6
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