LOS ANGELES -- At first glance, it may seem odd that forward Brent Burns led the Sharks in both shots and hits as San Jose built its 3-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings.
But not to coach Todd McLellan, who sees both those categories playing to the strength of Burns' game.
"Burnzie's somewhat reckless, which enhances his ability to play. He's a big body that goes," McLellan said Thursday after his team's morning skate. "Those are two of his best assets so if he wasn't at our near the top we'd obviously have concerns -- he wouldn't have the puck, he wouldn't be involved physically."
Through three games, Burns had 20 hits -- one more than Sharks forward Tommy Wingels. His 16 shots were four more than his nearest teammate, Tomas Hertl with 12.
That's more than three times his 2.1 hits per game in the regular season and slightly above his shots per game of 3.6 during the regular season that tied him with Logan Couture for the team lead.
But Burns dismissed the idea that his game was tailored specifically for the kind of hard-hitting, physical series the Sharks found themselves in against the Kings.
"I'm always trying to shoot, always trying to create room for other guys," he said. "Obviously I'm a bigger guy, so I've got to use my speed and my body to get pucks and make sure everybody knows that I'm out there."
In a Game 4 loss Thursday, Burns added two shots and one hit to his totals.
"It's one of those things where if you're climbing a mountain and you look at the top and you're at the bottom, it's pretty daunting," he said. "But if you look at the next step in front of you — that's kind of the mindset you have to have in these situations."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter moved Brown to the top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik in Game 4, hoping Brown could provide size and power needed to counter Joe Thornton and Burns.
Thornton said before the game that his line knew what to expect from Brown.
"You know he's going to finish his hits. He's an energy-type player. He's a good player," Thornton said. "We'll have to see how the game unfolds."
The Sharks took four in the first two games and their penalty kill was perfect; in Game 3, San Jose took four more and gave up two power play goals to the Kings.
"Sometimes when you get on the road, things happen. It's a different atmosphere," defenseman Jason Demers said. "We got some calls in the first two games, they got some calls in the third. It happens. We do have to be a little better in our penalty kill."
The Sharks ended up giving the Kings a series-high five power plays Thursday and Los Angeles scored on one.
That came two days after Patrick Marleau became a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy given for sportsmanship with skill, and Sutter used the occasion to tout his adopted state.
"It's good to see California recognized," Sutter said, forecasting a Hart Trophy nomination for Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf. "You put it all together, that's pretty good."