San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said it best: "You're never really, really in trouble in a series until you lose a game at home." And it's true, all things considered. Sure, they're in a 2-0 series hole and were thoroughly beaten down in game two to the tune of 7-3, but that was in Vancouver, against a Canucks team that is, on paper, on about equal footing with the Sharks. Maybe home ice is what the Sharks need at this point.
Maybe Antti Niemi has the game of his life on the back of the fans at the HP Pavilion. Maybe rookie Logan Couture can recapture his momentum with Ryane Clowe and dominate on the lower lines while the top lines remain mostly even. Perhaps Patrick Marleau can continue to play with the fire he showed on game two when he got into that fight with Kevin Bieksa, with the hometown fans on his side.
Or perhaps maybe ... just maybe ... Ben Eager takes less stupid penalties this time out. It would be nice if Eager didn't spend twenty minutes in the box this time out, something like two or zero would be preferable. You can't place the game two blame on Eager by any stretch of the imagination, but when a team is down and trying to fight back, doing what he did is more of a problem than a solution.
So, less time in the box and a better penalty kill unit should be the key for the Sharks tonight, along with having their legs under them in the third period. That's two games in a row that saw largely balanced play through two periods, only to blow up in San Jose's face in the third. After game one, it was thought that they simply were too tired, but an extended layoff going into game two would seem to dispute that notion.
Only the Sharks can really tell us why they collapsed in the third period, and only the Sharks can make right on it with a win on Friday. Are they on their way to another four-game sweep in the conference finals, or will they shake this off and head back to Vancouver with the series tied at two? We'll see. The game starts at 6:00 p.m. pacific and it's on Versus.