Kings find themselves in unfamiliar territory in San Jose's 'cage'

Whether you think of it as HP Pavilion, the Shark Tank, its current corporate name, SAP Center, or "the cage" as Kings Coach Darryl Sutter colorfully offered, one thing is evident:

The cage has become just that for the Kings in the playoffs, living quarters getting a little tight and the team possessing a championship pedigree unable to get out of town with a win.

San Jose has recorded five straight victories at home in the playoffs against the Kings, three in the second round in 2013 and the first two games of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Game 5 is Saturday night in San Jose. The Sharks lead the Kings in the best-of-seven series, three games to one, and the Kings will need to win twice at San Jose to pull off an epic comeback.

"It's certainly a feeling we haven't experienced as a team, and that's what makes everything unique," said Kings forward Justin Williams on Friday afternoon. "We've never been down before. We've put teams down three [games] and we know how we felt doing that. We're trying to close teams out and now we're on the other side of it.

"We're obviously upset that we've let it get to this. But we're trying to write a story that no one thought."

Williams sparked the Kings with his Game 4 performance Thursday — scoring twice in their 6-3 win — helping avert a four-game sweep by the Sharks and prolonging the first-round series.

As recently as two years ago, the Kings were a playoff machine on the road, winning 10 of 11 away from Staples Center on their way to the Stanley Cup. Since then, they've gone 1-8 on the road, the lone victory coming in Game 5 at St. Louis in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs.

"You certainly can't dwell on the past," Williams said. "Every playoff has its own story line. I feel every game has its own story line too. Anything positive that you can build on, that you've already accomplished, that you've done, certainly helps."

He plans on embracing the noise in San Jose, saying: "I use it. It gets me going. I trick my mind into pretending they're cheering for me."

Winning on the road was also a problem during the 2013 lockout-shortened regular season. But the Kings seemed to correct that issue this season when they tied a club record with an eight-game road winning streak, a stretch that ran from Feb. 26 to March 27.

Despite losing starting goalie Jonathan Quick to injury in November, they still managed to succeed on the road with rookie goalie Martin Jones and backup Ben Scrivens. In fact, Scrivens had back-to-back shutouts at New Jersey and at the New York Rangers in November.

San Jose had the league's second-best record at home, trailing only the Boston Bruins.

"Playoffs are a totally different ballgame, a totally different series," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "You go into tough buildings. It's a battle. It's a battle every game to get a win. We had to battle our butts off last night to get a win to get us back in this thing.

"And we're going to have to do the exact same thing, probably more so and harder, tomorrow night. It's weird how the road record goes. There's no science to it."

One difference from the Sharks of years past is they have more youth and more speed in the form of rookie forwards Matt Nieto of Long Beach and Tomas Hertl of the Czech Republic.

Nieto and Hertl have combined for nine points in the series, and Nieto is third among the Sharks in playoff scoring with two goals and five points, two behind leader Patrick Marleau.

That youth and speed created problems for the Kings in the first three games and, despite the loss, Nieto scored once and Hertl added an assist in Game 4.

Twitter: @reallisa

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