(SAN JOSE) -- In the moment right after Logan Couture scored his 12th goal of the year to give the San Jose Sharks a 4-1 lead over the Los Angeles Kings just 27 seconds into the third period, there may have been a collective sigh of relief from the Sharks fan base and organizational leaders.
But if there was perceived relief, the Sharks players on the ice reminded everyone that they are not to be trusted with such faith.
San Jose held on for a 4-3 win -- a much-needed victory and its two points in the standings -- but not before giving up two goals in a four-minute span in the latter stages of the third period that brought the Kings back into the game ... and probably took the breath away from everyone at HP Pavilion tonight.
In the end, the Sharks got the win, but their fatal flaw was on full display: they were outscored in the third period, again, and they made securing the victory a lot more difficult than it needed to be.
That takes a lot out of a team, and as San Jose now heads to Los Angeles for a "rematch" on Saturday, it'll be interesting to see how both teams respond to the clear dominance in the third period by the Kings tonight.
One might even argue that despite the score, Los Angeles dominated for most of this game, and they might be right. The Sharks had a lot of scoring chances that just missed the net, and the score easily could have been in double digits for San Jose if the puck had bounced slightly differently for them.
As it was, San Jose was out-shot in the first period, 16-6, but they scored the only goal to take the lead. And then the Sharks did dominate the middle 20 minutes, scoring twice on an extended power play after the Kings took some fighting penalties.
Thus, when Couture scored so early in the third frame, it looked like a sign that San Jose could finally breathe easy on their way to a well-earned victory.
But Los Angeles again out-shot the Sharks late (14-7) the game and never gave up. That's probably one of the reasons they won the Stanley Cup last year -- and San Jose never has.
The Kings play hard for 60 minutes; the Sharks often do not.
San Jose does have a lot of positives to build off with this game: it's the first time since January 27 they've scored four goals in a game, and the win moved them back into the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference -- good enough for a playoff spot if the season ended today.
However, what the Sharks need to do is build on this success and parlay it into a string of victories that will cement their postseason position and confidence heading into the playoffs.
Oh, and they need to learn to never get outscored in the final period of the game, too, even when they win.