SAN JOSE -- This is the spot that the Sharks wanted to be in before their Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Los Angeles Kings began -- up three games to one with a chance to clinch at home in Game 5 on Saturday.

But the Sharks know that that's all it is right now -- a chance.

"We should feel good about what we've accomplished to this point," coach Todd McLellan said Friday, "but we shouldn't feel comfortable."

McLellan and the Sharks are looking for better play around their own net -- and around the net of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick -- to avoid the nightmarish scenario of having to play a Game 6 in Los Angeles on Monday.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 24:  James Sheppard #15 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his goal with Tomas Hertl #48 to tie the game 1-1 with the Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 24: James Sheppard #15 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his goal with Tomas Hertl #48 to tie the game 1-1 with the Los Angeles Kings during the first period in Game Four of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on April 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) ( Harry How )

The Sharks did an admirable job of limiting any sustained pressure by the Kings in the first three games of the series. They also capitalized on several opportunities against Quick, scoring on rebounds, screen shots and tip-ins inside the Kings' zone.

Game 4 on Thursday wasn't quite the same.

While goals by Justin Williams and Tyler Toffoli -- which gave the Kings a 4-2 lead near the end of the second period -- could be blamed on bad bounces around Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, Marian Gaborik's goal early in the third period came directly after a Sharks turnover deep in their own zone.

The Sharks had 13 giveaways in the 6-3 loss in Game 4, easily the most of any game in the series.


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"There's a few things that we can do better. The play around both nets probably, our net and their net," Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart said. "Be a little more cohesive on our forecheck, make sure we're getting guys into position quicker and working together a little bit better. That will help us play a faster game."

On the other end, the Sharks missed their share of scoring chances, most notably when on the power play in the second period, a shot on an open net by Joe Pavelski was deflected just wide by Kings captain Dustin Brown to keep the game tied 2-2.

"They are going to the net hard, trying to push Nemo back in the crease, keep him in the crease," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We have to box out, get sticks and then on the opposite end go to the net hard on Quick and make him uncomfortable.

"Tip-in goals, rebound goals -- that's how we've scored all series. We have to get back to that."

The Kings shifted a pair of their lines for Game 4 and finally got some of their top goal scorers going, as Gaborik got his second and third goals of the series, Williams scored his first two and Mike Richards had his first assist.

Brown was moved up to the Kings' top line with Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, giving the Sharks a different look and perhaps an effective counter to their top line of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Pavelski. Williams played on an effective third line with Jarret Stoll and Dwight King.

But with the series shifting back to San Jose, the Sharks again will have last change and be able to go with the matchups they want.

"Guys are ready to play whoever," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. "We've done that the first four games. It won't be different in Game 5. You have to be ready for whoever you play against."

Now for the Sharks it's just a matter of playing the same type of hockey they did in the first three games.

"I don't know why we would be nervous or be like, 'Oh boy, we need to win.' We're up 3-1, and we can close it out at home," Vlasic said. "So we're in a great situation, and guys will be ready to play tomorrow."

For more on the Sharks, see the Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow Curtis Pashelka on Twitter at twitter.com/CurtisPashelka.

saturday's game

Game 5: Los Angeles at Sharks, 7 p.m. CSNCA, CNBC