Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks fell behind in their second round playoff series with a 5-3 loss in Las Vegas Friday. Vegas took a 4-0 lead with goals from James Neal, Eric Haula and two from Alex Tuch. Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-netter in the final seconds to seal the win. The Sharks’ three third period goals came from Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker. Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for the win. In the Sharks’ net, Martin Jones made 27 saves before being pulled in the third period, and Aaron Dell finished the game with seven saves.
After the game, Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski described the team’s sense of the game:
It felt like the game was there at all times. When that score was within two or three, you feel in it. And we knew we had to get in there and create a little bit more. But, game went to four, Deller went in, all of a sudden we bang in one or two and you know it’s still there. So I don’t know, did we fell in it? We thought we had a chance for sure. Were we playing good enough? Not at some moments for sure, but the game got better at the end. So that needs to continue now, it doesn’t matter what we felt.
“We have to play harder for a longer stretch than we did tonight. We didn’t play hard enough for long enough and that’s why we lost,” said Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer. Each team killed three of four penalties. Vegas outshot the Sharks 39-30, with the biggest difference in the first period. Vegas also edged the Sharks in faceoffs, winning 51% of them. The hit count favored the Golden Knights by a big margin at 53-35.
The Golden Knights outshot the Sharks 15-7 in the first period, but Sharks goaltender Martin Jones held them off the board until the final minute. James Neal scored with just three seconds left off a rebound created by Shea Theodore’s shot from the blue line. Theodore and David Perron got the assists.
The Sharks started the second period with an early power play but could not score. They had only two shots on goal and Vegas came back with a power play of their own just 12 seconds after the Sharks power play expired.
The Vegas power play did not last long, as Alex Tuch scored at 4:52, again off a rebound. This one was created by a close in shot from Reilly Smith. It was not much of a rebound but Tuch was right on the doorstep to knock it in. Assists went to Reilly and Jonathan Marchessault.
The third Vegas goal came from Erik Haula at 8:59. Haula caught a pass from David Perron almost at the goal line. His bad angle shot squeezed under Jones’ pad on the short side. Assists went to Perron and Ryan Carpenter.
Just shy of the half way mark, Marc-Andre Fleury thwarted an excellent chance for San Jose. Marcus Sorensen skated in fast and followed his shot up by crashing the net. He knocked Fleury across the goal mouth and off his skates. The puck was cleared away to the boards, where Brent Burns was on top of it. Fleury got back in position in time to stop the blast from Burns as well.
Vegas had a second power play at 11:02 after Justin Braun was called for tripping. The Sharks started the penaly kill with a good short-handed chance from Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, but they did not beat Fleury. They had a couple more short-handed excursions into the Vegas zone and killed off the rest of the penalty.
The Sharks’ fourth line had an excellent shift in the final three minutes of the period but that was followed by another Vegas power play. After a line change, Joe Pavelski was called for roughing after a tussle in front of the Vegas net. The Sharks spent most of the rest of the period killing that off.
The Sharks’ second power play came early in the third period after Shea Theodore was called for cross-checking Tomas Hertl. Vegas killed that off, but Theodore was back in the box at 4:11, this time for slashing Hertl. The Sharks were unable to take advantage of either penalty.
Alex Tuch scored his second of the game at 8:36 of the third. The Sharks had just finished an excellent shift in the o-zone, ever frustrated by Fleury. After the offensive zone draw, the Sharks lost the puck to Oscar Lindberg, who got it out of the zone. Alex Tuch carried it across the line and passed it to Cody Eakin. Eakin sent it right back for Tuch to shoot.
Pete DeBoer pulled Martin Jones after that goal and put Aaron Dell in.
The team responded with a a quick power play goal from Kevin Labanc. James Neal was called for slashing at 9:06. 29 seconds into the power play, Logan Couture found Labanc in the slot for a clean shot over Fleury’s left pad. Assists went to Couture and Hertl.
Just over two minutes later, Tomas Hertl scored to cut the Vegas lead in half. Mikkel Boedker made a fast move behind the net and just as he had the puck coming around the post, Hertl was there to knock it in. Assists went to Boedker and Couture.
Boedker added to the Sharks’ tally with a quick shot close in after the puck popped out of a scramble in front of the Vegas net. The time of the goal was 15:44, with an assist to Logan Couture.
With 2:21 and an offensive zone draw for the Sharks, DeBoer pulled Dell for the extra skater. The Sharks spent some precious time defending that empty net before getting the puck back into the Vegas zone for a moment. But with 1:21 left, Jonathan Marchessault got control of the puck and took a shot all the way down the ice for the empty-net goal.
Game 6 will be in San Jose on Sunday at 4:30 pm PT.