SAN JOSE — The Sharks' power play and penalty killing units that were so effective against the Vancouver Canucks are finding things to be a bit more difficult against the Los Angeles Kings.
Going into Game 3 of its Western Conference semifinal series against the defending Stanley Cup champions at HP Pavilion on Saturday night, San Jose is 0 for 7 on the power play. The penalty killing unit, which held the Canucks to two goals in four games, gave up three goals with a man down to the Kings in Game 2, including two in a 22-second span in the final two minutes of the third period. One of those Kings goals came with the Sharks down two men.
"Our penalty-kill last night was OK, but at key points in the game it wasn't good enough," Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart said. "So we already talked about that. We will do some things differently and we'll do some things better.
"Our power play is going to need to get better. At this time of year, that's always the most important thing, the special teams. It can put you over the top or it can hurt you."
The Sharks' power play was second-best among the NHL's 16 playoff teams for the first round, connecting at 29.2 percent (7 for 24) against Vancouver. Joe Pavelski had three power play goals against the Canucks and Scott Gomez anchored the second power play unit in games three and four.
But the Kings, like their first round series against the St. Louis Blues, aren't giving the Sharks much power play time. Whereas Vancouver was a man down an average of six times per game in the four-game sweep, Los Angeles has been a man-down an average of about three times per game since the start of the playoffs.
"We just have to be sharper on our power play," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "We've got enough talent to score some goals. It's something we need to do if we want to win."
The Kings have been exceptional at killing penalties since Darryl Sutter took over as coach last season, and their unit killed 92.1 percent of penalties in their Stanley Cup run last season. Against the Blues, the Kings allowed just two power play goals on 17 chances and goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 20 of 22 shots when his team was down a man.
In the second period, Patrick Marleau did score just five seconds after an Alec Martinez penalty for hooking had expired.
"We end up zero on the power play, but in my opinion we got one," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said about the Marleau goal. "So that's a good thing. We moved the puck around well there.
"The penalty kill, that's a tough one because of the goals that were scored. The first on, we made some mistakes. We'd like to have that one back. The second one's a quick 5-on-3 where anything can happen and then the last one's a rebound. Different types of goals that they scored. Areas to improve on? Yes. And we'll have to if we want to continue on."