SAN JOSE — Dustin Brown could have gone into a long explanation, an overly technical breakdown or simply resorted to a few well-worn hockey clichés.
Instead, the Kings' captain opted for one word when asked about necessary mind-set for Game 5 on Thursday in Los Angeles.
"Win," he said.
That would reverse the Kings' fortunes in a series suddenly gone south. San Jose pulled even in the Western Conference semifinal at two games each with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.
BOX SCORE: San Jose 2, Kings 1
The Kings outshot the Sharks, 14-2, in the third period, but the verve and concerted pressure they displayed came way too late for such a critical playoff game.
San Jose was sparked by a revitalized Joe Thornton, who came out with focus and sheer will, playing roles on both of the Sharks' goals, assisting on the goal by linemate Brent Burns at 6:09 of the first period, making it 1-0. An opportunistic Burns took advantage of a turnover by Kings defenseman Slava Voynov in the corner.
Longtime Thornton watchers thought it might have been his best playoff game in years. He won six of seven faceoffs in the first period and 12 of 18 overall.
The Kings had little answer for him … or for Burns, or Logan Couture, who made it 2-0 with his power-play goal at 3:55 of the second period as he deflected defenseman Dan Boyle's shot. San Jose had gone on the power play after Kings forward Colin Fraser took an ill-advised roughing penalty in the offensive zone.
VIDEO: Dustin Brown postgame interview
Mike Richards had the lone Kings goal, scoring on the power play at 9:46 of the third period as the Kings finally found their legs, fueled by desperation.
Richards used another word to describe his early woes.
"I got my pocket picked about three times on the one shift, which a little bit embarrassing," Richards said. "But it just shows you can't play half a hockey game in the playoffs."
They went missing in the first period, getting outshot, 15-3, and mustered only one shot in the final 14:30 of the first. Without Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's alertness, the Sharks easily could have had a three-goal lead after the first period, instead of being up 1-0.
VIDEO: Mike Richards postgame interview
"We've got to start on time," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "It's easy to play when you get down 2-0. You open up a little bit. We've got to start on time. We've got to play better right away.
"You can't be trying to come back every night in the playoffs."
Said Brown: "They were all over us in the first 30 minutes of the game. We put a lot of pressure on them in the third. It helped us sustain offensive zone pressure when you have those [defensemen] being active. We need to take that from tonight's game in the third and apply that to Game 5."
There was also a combination of a quick whistle and flat-out misfortune for the Kings.
The quick whistle came early in the second on an apparent goal by the Kings' Dustin Penner and later with the Kings still trailing, 2-0, rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin shot over an open net, missing a glorious opportunity on the power play.
The Kings made two lineup changes for Game 4, bringing in left wing Kyle Clifford and Greene. For Greene, it was his first action since he was injured near
the end of the regular season, on April 24 at Detroit. Greene, who required back surgery after the season opener Jan. 19, suffered a lower-body injury against the Red Wings.
Clifford did not play in the final game of the first-round series against the Blues, having suffered an upper-body injury
"I'm just trying to get back up to speed with the guys," said Greene, who played a little more than 14 minutes.
Said Brown: "It's huge. Obviously, the physical presence he has on the ice, the leadership in the room is huge. He was probably, I think, our most physical defenseman tonight."