Photo credit: @GoldenKnights
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE — The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-3 Friday, tying their first round NHL Playoff series 1-1. Vegas goals came from Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and William Karlsson. Sharks goals came from Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves in the win. Martin Jones made four saves on seven shots for San Jose, then Aaron Dell came in to replace him and made 14 saves on 16 shots.
The Sharks had eight power plays in the game while the Golden Knights had just three. The Sharks scored one power play goal and Vegas scored one power play goal and two short-handed ones.
After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski talked about how the Sharks’ power play failed them: “We would get turned back and try to make the play up top and they would take that away and it would be out of the zone. It can be a little cleaner, a little quicker, a little bit more direct and we’ll go from there.”
The curse of the first five minutes reared its head again for the Sharks. Martin Jones had just saved a Max Pacioretty shot, which wound up behind the net. Following it as it came back around, Jones found himself screened by his own defensemen when Cody Eakin took a shot from the slot. An assist went to Pacioretty.
That was not the end of it. Before five minutes had elapsed, Vegas scored again. 2:10 into overlapping Sharks power plays, Colin Miller emerged from the penalty box to score short handed at 4:37.
Vegas added another at 6:11. Paul Stastny deflected a pass in the neutral zone, and Pacioretty picked it up. He carried the puck in just off the wall and took his shot before passing the face-off dot. The shot went by Jones on the far side and in. Stastny got the assist.
After that goal, Peter DeBoer replaced Martin Jones with Aaron Dell in net.
After the game, DeBoer said: “We were down three-nothing ten minutes in. I didn’t put it on Jonesy. We needed a shot in the arm to kind of change our momentum.”
The Sharks took some time to stem the bleeding. Once they had done that, they engaged their offense.
Logan Couture got the Sharks on the board at 16:59. The Sharks had just finished killing off a two-man advantage for Vegas, and were playing 4-on-4. Erik Karlsson made a pass across the offensive zone to Pavelski, who quickly passed it back across to Couture in front of the net. Couture put it carefully over Fleury and into the net. Assists went to Pavelski and Karlsson.
After the goal, the Sharks had a brief power play and scored again at 17:38. Couture passed the puck from the point along the blue line to Erik Karlsson, who had a long line of traffic between himself and the net. That traffic made an effective screen for Karlsson’s shot, and a deflection by Tomas Hertl made it all the more elusive. It was Hertl’s second of the playoffs. Assists went to Karlsson and Couture.
Joe Thornton completed the comeback at 19:08 of the period. The Sharks had just spent quite a while hemmed in their own zone when Logan Couture flipped the puck out of the zone. Evander Kane took off in hot pursuit though Pacioretty had several steps on him. Kane caught up and pushed Pacioretty off the puck, took it around behind the net and sent it back up to Brenden Dillon on the blue line. Dillon sent it back down to Thornton for a deflection. Dillon and Kane got the assists.
The second period started with another goal against the Sharks in the first five minutes, but only after the Sharks had a goal called back 51 seconds in. The goal did not count as it occurred just after Logan Couture was penalized for goaltender interference. The call was questionable as the contact came well outside the blue paint and appeared to be initiated by the goaltender. Nevertheless, the goal did not count.
On the ensuing power play, Vegas scored at 1:31. Mark Stone deflected a blue line shot from Shea Theodore. Dell stopped the deflection but the puck made its way back out to Stone, who was able to poke it through traffic and in. It was Stone’s third of the playoffs. Assists went to Stastny and Alex Tuch.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic finished his final shift of the game at 1:06, after the face-off for that Vegas power play, so the Sharks finished the game with five defensemen. Vlasic was injured blocking a shot.
Vegas scored a second short-handed goal at 7:35 of the third period. William Karlsson broke away as Reilly Smith was collecting the puck in the defensive zone. The pass got to him on the center line when he was already up to speed. He faked a shot as he approached the net and then put it away with a back-hand over a prone goaltender. Assists went to Smith and Tuch.
That goal came on Vegas’s first shot of the period. They did not have another shot until 13:53 of the period. In total, they only had four shots in the period but that was enough for them.
The Sharks pulled their goaltender with over two minutes to go for an offensive zone draw. The Sharks had a total of 15 shots in the period but could not beat Fleury again.
Through the first two periods, the Sharks won over 60% of the face-offs, but in the third won just 33%. The Golden Knights put Colin Miller in for Nick Holden on their blue line Friday. The Sharks made no roster changes, but may have to for Sunday, if Vlasic is not available.
Game 3 will be in Las Vegas on Sunday at 7:00 PM PT.