Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
With a 5-2 loss Sunday to the Vegas Golden Knights, the San Jose Sharks finished the 2018 preseason with four losses in a row. Vegas goals came from Nick Holden, Reilly Smith, Tomas Nosek (2), and Max Pacioretty. Those last three mentioned goals were short-handed. For San Jose, Erik Karlsson and Kevin Labanc scored, both on the power play.
Both teams had their starting goaltenders in net, with Martin Jones for the Sharks and Marc-Andre Fleury for the Golden Knights. The rest of the lineup for the Sharks looked much as it might for Wednesday’s opening game, including Finnish newcomer Antti Suomela. Jones stopped 22 of 27 shots for the Sharks, while Fleury stopped 33 of 35 for the win.
The first goal came late in the first period. Joakim Ryan tried a pass behind the net to Brent Burns, but Jonathan Marchessault was right behind him to snatch the puck away and get it to Holden, who had just pinched in from the blue line. The shot went over Jones’ glove and in at 18:44.
The Sharks responded early in the second period during a power play. Ryan Reaves was in the box for throwing a broken stick into Joe Pavelski’s path. It was either subtly done or accidental, but the whistle blew nonetheless. The Knights’ penalty killers pushed the Sharks out after a couple of shots and then stopped them at the blue line as they tried to re-enter, twice in quick succession. Finally, the Sharks got their power play set up and Labanc played catch with Karlsson a little before Karlsson was able to score from just above the goal line at 5:41. Labanc and Timo Meier got the assists.
At 12:58 of the second, Marc-Edouard Vlasic went to the Sharks’ room after being called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Kevin Labanc served the minor penalty in Vlasic’s place. Vlasic did not return until the start of the third period.
The Sharks killed off the Vlasic penalty but Vegas pushed back hard in the middle minutes of the period, leaving the Sharks’ special teams in a shambles.
Pacioretty broke Evander Kane’s stick with a slash, cutting their own power play short by some seconds. The Sharks power play was at work in the o-zone when Burns tripped along the blue line. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare picked up the loose puck and got it to a breaking Nosek. Now two-on-none with Bellemare, Nosek carried it in and beat Jones under the blocker at 9:39.
Vegas scored just seven seconds into a power play at 11:25. Joe Pavelski was in the box for hooking. The puck came high out of the corner, William Karlsson’s pass ramping off of Brenden Dillon’s stick. If fell to Reilly Smith in front of the net and he put it by Jones without hesitation. Assists went to William Karlsson and Ryan Miller.
With under five minutes left in the second period, the Sharks started a power play after Marchessault went to the box for slashing Marcus Sorensen. The power play went pretty well for the first minute, with the Sharks entering the zone without too much trouble. They were retrieving the puck after shots and moving around well. In the second minute, the puck got by Erik Karlsson at the blue line and the Sharks had to retrieve it. Vegas was doing an excellent job of keeping them out and the Sharks were on their second try when Pacioretty stripped the puck from Hertl who was already being pressured by Paul Stastny. Pacioretty skated to the Sharks’ net with Meier and Burns closing in on him. He got a shot off close to the blue paint, then tapped his own rebound around Jones’ skate. The short-handed goal was unassisted at 17:10.
The Sharks had another power play 1:25 into the third period. Just 16 seconds into that, Nosek and Bellemare struck again. Bellemare broke up a play and knocked the puck out of the zone and chased it down in the Sharks zone. While Couture and Burns closed in on him, he sent the puck out to the zlot where Nosek was moving in. Nosek put the puck over Jones’ blocker. Karlsson had spotted Nosek, but did not catch him quickly enough to stop the shot.
The Sharks survived two more power plays and a penalty kill in the third, without giving up another goal. At 14:33, Collin Miller was called for tripping and the Sharks started their fifth power play of the game. The second unit was on the ice, with Labanc, Kane, Hertl, Meier and Vlasic. With six seconds to go in the power play, Labanc was just above the goal line, almost at the wall when he drove the puck through the short side. Assists went to Vlasic and Hertl.
The Sharks will play their season opener on Wednesday in San Jose against the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 PM PT.