SAN JOSE -- They talked about urgency. They talked about the need to get more goals early to survive the inevitable third-period onslaught from the Los Angeles Kings. They talked about the importance of winning a game away from home.

But as the Sharks prepared for their pivotal Game 5 on Thursday night at Staples Center, nobody was counting on the momentum from wins in the past two games to help with any of that.

NHL players and coaches agree that momentum ends at the final buzzer. It didn't help the Kings coming into San Jose with a two-game series lead, and it won't help the Sharks heading back to Los Angeles on a two-game winning streak.

"You need to re-establish momentum on a nightly basis," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I'm a real believer in that."

The San Jose Sharks celebrate San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture’s (39) goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period in Game 4 of the
The San Jose Sharks celebrate San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture's (39) goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals at HP Pavilion on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

He added that there are too many variables from game to game to put any faith in something like the results of the previous contest.

"Once you leave the rink, there's adjustments made," McLellan said. "The energy level for individuals, lines, pairs all varies from night to night. So do circumstances -- penalties, power plays, ice conditions. You name it."

After the opening faceoff, though, momentum is very real and up for grabs every shift.

"You can feel the energy transferring," forward Brent Burns said. "When you do lose momentum, you're on the bench saying, 'Let's be the line to get it back.' It takes one shift. You string a couple of those together, and you can feel the momentum switch again."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter dismissed any momentum factor when his team won the first two games of the series, just as McLellan rejects it now.

So what do the teams think it will take to avoid being the one on the brink of elimination Sunday at HP Pavilion for Game 6?

While the Sharks stayed off the ice Wednesday, the Kings practiced at their suburban El Segundo rink, where Sutter tested some new line combinations after Los Angeles scored only two goals in the two games in San Jose.

Captain Dustin Brown, for example, was replaced by Kyle Clifford on a line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Instead, Brown was skating with Trevor Lewis and Dwight King, while Dustin Penner joined a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

McLellan didn't need spies in Los Angeles to learn of the possible changes, not with Twitter and other social networks reporting every tweak.

"You guys know there aren't any secrets," the Sharks coach said before addressing the apparent moves by the Kings. "We've done that in practice before, too. We've experimented with lines. They get last change, they get to determine who they're going to play and against who. They'll play them as they see fit, and we'll have to react."

That gets to the outside factor that does seem to matter in this series: home-ice advantage.

Through eight regular-season and playoff meetings, neither team has won on the road in 2013. Both feed off their fan bases, and both Sutter and McLellan have had success when controlling matchups in their buildings.

As the lower seed, San Jose knows that trend can't continue if it's going to oust the defending Stanley Cup champions.

One thing Dan Boyle would like to see is more productive use of any early shifts where the Sharks have dominated the Kings.

"In the games they could easily be down three goals, they find a way to just kind of stick around long enough where a couple of late goals can win games," Boyle said of the Kings. "It's one of those teams where sitting on a one-goal lead is probably not going to cut it."

McLellan has mentioned more than once that he liked the fact that down two games, his players were confident on the flight back to San Jose.

What was he hoping to see from them on Wednesday's return flight?

"A sense of urgency," McLellan said. "I think that has to go up a little bit now, heading into their building, knowing it's a three-game series and the task ahead."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

Thursday's game

GAME 5: Sharks at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

INSide

Notebook: Galiardi says Kings goalie embellishes. PAGE 5

Online extra
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