The Los Angeles Kings blanked the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinals to even the series up and steal home-ice advantage. On Tuesday, they’ll put that home-ice advantage to work as the series shifts to STAPLES Center.

The San Jose Sharks are a good bounce-back team and coming off of a lackadaisical effort, look for a much stronger performance in Game 3 of their NHL playoffs series.

The San Jose Sharks Win Because…:

They were simply undisciplined in Game 2 and lost the game on special teams. That can be corrected.

The Sharks averaged just 11.34 penalty minutes per game in the regular season (19th least in the NHL) but gave three silly penalties in the first period of Game 2 and the Kings made them pay. The Kings power play ranked among the lower third of teams throughout the season. Los Angeles is not a high-scoring, explosive team as is, so the Sharks will be sure not to assist them in any way once again.

Meanwhile, San Jose’s power play was the second-best unit in the regular season but they were scoreless in five man-advantage opportunities in Game 2. That’s not likely to continue.

The Sharks won’t be intimidated to play on the road where they notched 23 of their 48 wins this season. They are also a good rebound team as they are 9-2 revenging a home loss to an opponent and also 11-5 this season after a loss of two goals or more.

The Los Angeles Kings Can Win Because…:

Their defense-first strategy worked in Game 2 and it will work again in Game 3. To put it into perspective, the Los Angeles Kings were much weaker on the road this season than at home yet they nearly stole Game 1 in San Jose and easily conquered Game 2. There is a fair argument to be made that San Jose is very lucky to even have a split in the series to this point.

The Kings know that their strength is their defense and if these games turn into an offensive slugfest, they won’t be able to keep up. That’s why they are focusing on the back end first, keeping things airtight and then moving forward and taking whatever the Sharks are going to give them. It’s a frustrating strategy to play against and with every blocked shot and cleared offensive possession, the thoughts of choking away another playoff series way heavier on the minds of the Sharks.

Los Angeles had 25 home wins at STAPLES Center this season, which tied them for the third-most home wins in the NHL. They averaged 18,083 in attendance this season, which is a new franchise record, and a packed house should be on hand for the “blackout” to cheer their team on once again.

The pace and style has been dictated by Los Angeles in this series: the first to three goals – or maybe even two – will win. That’s what the Kings want and at home, they should be able to get it.

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:

This contest presents us with a strategic matchup we see in sports time and time again. On one hand, the Sharks will be aggressive, they will push the envelope and they will try to win this game. Meanwhile, the Kings will be defensive-minded, will play not to lose it at first and wait for the Sharks to make a mistake before they attack aggressively.

The Sharks still have more firepower on offense and as long as they don’t take silly penalties as they did in Game 2 and if they can get their own power play back on track, they’ll be just fine. Bet the Sharks for Game 3.

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