2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Blues Tie Series with 2-1 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The St. Louis Blues won 2-1 against the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center Friday, tying the Western Conference Final series. Ivan Barbashev and Tyler Bozak scored for St. Louis, while Tomas Hertl got the Sharks’ lone goal. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the win, while Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 20 saves in a losing effort.

Asked whether there was an emotional let down after the Game 3 win, and whether that contributed to the slow start, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said:

Not really, it really didn’t cross my mind. There’s a lot of emotion throughout the playoffs. You know, we’re in the Conference Finals, we’ve had overtime wins, we’ve had Game Sevens, we’ve had emotional games for sure. You just lace ’em back up for the next game and you get ready to go and you compete.

After the game, Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said: “Our second and third was really good. The start just wasn’t what we needed and kind of buried us for the night.”

Braun then gave more detail: “We started making plays and battling. I didn’t think we were very clean, we were losing a lot of battles in the first period and then we kind of changed our mindset and started going.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer summarized his thoughts on the team’s situation with: “You’re in the Western Conference Final, 2-2, you know, against a really good team. I feel pretty good. We got home ice advantage. Yeah, I mean, you know, I feel good.”

The Blues started the scoring just 35 seconds in. The Blues’ fourth line trapped the Sharks in the defensive zone right off the draw and as Brent Burns tried to clear the puck from behind the net, Alexander Steen came around with a hit. Ivan Barbashev came down the boards and found the puck. He took a shot that went off of Gus Nyquist’s stick and into the net. It was Barbashev’s first of the playoffs.

They added another at 17:43, on the power play. It was the Sharks’ second penalty of the period. The Blues got one shot during their first power play. They had two in the second one. After winning the face-off, the Blues moved the puck around the zone a bit, until Vladimir Tarasenko took a shot from the point. Pat Maroon deflected it and Jones stopped it, but the rebound went right up the slot. Tyler Bozak got credit for the goal, though the puck appeared to go off of Justin Braun’s skate and under Jones. Assists went to Maroon and Tarasenko.

Along with the scoring lead, the Blues led slightly in shots (10-9) while trailing in face-offs (45%) at the end of the first period.

The Sharks had their first power play at 5:41 of the second period, a hooking penalty against Sammy Blais. The Sharks got two shots but no goal. The teams then played four on four after a scrum in the corner at 8:24. Marc-Edouard Vlasic went for slashing Jordan Binnington, and Brayden Schenn went for roughing Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic’s penalty looked like an attempt to dislodge the puck from under Binnington’s glove, as he poked the end of his stick into the gap at the front of the glove on the ice. Schenn took issue with that, as did the officials.

There was no scoring in the second, but the Sharks mustered a relentless attack in the final minutes of the period, racking up several shots and keeping the Blues trapped in their zone. The Sharks out-shot the Blues 11-8 in the period, but slipped in the face-off circle to 44%. By the end of the second, the Blues had out-hit the Sharks 24-14.

Tomas Hertl and the Sharks’ power play scored at 6:48 of the third period. Brent Burns took a shot from the blue line that trickled under Binnington. Joe Pavelski reached behind the goalie at the same time as Hertl did, and while Hertl was being tackled in the blue paint, the puck went over the line. Assists went to Burns and Erik Karlsson.

The Sharks were back on the power play at 9:52. As the first minute of that wound down, Tyler Bozak chipped the puck past Brent Burns and went for a short-handed attempt. Oskar Sundqvist jumped in to back him up. Bozak got a good shot off, and Sundqvist was there to get a rebound, but Jones did not give him one. The Sharks used their timeout after that. Even so, they did not get any shots during that power play.

At 12:33, the Sharks were called for too many men after the puck was passed to the bench where lines were changing. Joe Thornton swept the puck away before getting off the ice. Evander Kane got away for a short-handed shot, and the Blues had two shots on the power play.

With an offensive zone face-off and 2:02 left, the Sharks pulled Martin Jones for an extra skater. The Blues got a shot at the empty net right away, but missed. The Sharks kept the play in the offensive zone for more than a minute before the Blues found a way to get the puck out. The Sharks outshot the Blues 10-4 in the third, the biggest shot advantage in the game.

Erik Karlsson did not skate in most of the second half of the third period, but stayed on the bench. He was back on the ice for the final two minutes.

Game 5 will be on Sunday at 12 noon PT at the SAP Center in San Jose.

Thornton, Karlsson score 2 apiece in Sharks’ 5-4 win over Blues in OT

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Pearl Allison Lo

The St. Louis Blues almost had the game sealed with less than a minute left in the third period, but an apparent overtime hand pass made it a 5-4 loss Wednesday in Game 3.

In the playoffs, St. Louis is now 0-2 and San Jose 2-1 with the Sharks leading the series 2-1. 

Dubbed “the best remaining player in the playoffs,” Logan “Clutch-ure” made his case when he sent the contest to the series’ first overtime. He tied a franchise-record for most goals in a single postseason with 16 goals. The other guy? Teammate Joe Pavelski in 2016. Couture had his first four shots of the game in the third period.

In that extra period, there was a bit of back-and-forth, which seemed to favor the Blues. However, on the final play, Timo Meier made a shot, then bounced the puck on the ice with his hand in a directing motion. Teammate Gus Nyquist raced in front and passed to Erik Karlsson who slid the puck to score. It resulted in multiple players hitting their stick, St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn swinging his twice and breaking his stick.

The call was not reviewable since none of the four on-ice officials had seen what happened.

Erik Karlsson after the game described it as, “the longest yard out there.”

If not for the way the game ended, the storyline of a tale of two periods might have prevailed. The Sharks ended the first with a 2-0 lead. However, after the second, they found themselves down 4-3 after giving up four goals, three consecutively.

“I didn’t get an explanation, except there’s a set of different of rules for two teams,” Pietrangelo said.

San Jose’s Joe Thornton and the Blues’ David Perron’s pair of goals apiece were their first multi-goal games ever in the playoffs. Kevin Labanc and Colton Parayko had assists during each player’s respective goals, Parayko’s two part of three straight assists.  

Logan Couture and the Sharks had not scored since 6:54 of the second in Game 2 but that changed in the latter half of the first period.

The first goal of the playoffs came at 13:37 and snapped a 31-game streak for Karlsson as he scored his first of the playoffs and first of 2019. Micheal Haley hit Joel Edmundson, causing a turnover and Karlsson nabbed his first goal since December 29 from beyond the left faceoff circle. In San Jose’s last five games the team who has scored first has won.

Thornton made it 2-0 at 16:58 and has now scored versus each 2019 playoff opponent. He moved hard to shoot the puck along the boards and when he got it back, shot it to his left while looking back towards the net. It was Thornton’s first goal since April 26.

The second period started with the Blues coming within one of the Sharks twice and it started quick.

Alexander Steen broke onto the scene early in the second at 1:18 to make it 2-1.

18 seconds later, Brenden Dillon made a long shot, Labanc recovered the rebound behind the net and made a quick shot to Thornton with a defender in front to reestablish the two-goal lead. With space, Thornton got the puck to the net before goalie Jordan Binnington. It was Thornton’s most goals in a game since February 18 with his second of the night. Josh Dubow of the Associated Press tweeted, his “4 goals this postseason are his most in a single playoffs.”

Vladimir Tarasenko, who had been silent since May 1, made another Blues push to make it 3-2 at 4:05.

Things remained quiet until 16:03, when Perron got the Blues even at 3-3.

It became a three-goal spiral when the Sharks also received their first penalty at 17:42. Halfway in,  the Blues ended up getting their first lead when Perron scored again.

St. Louis’ Vince Dunn took a shot in the face from Dillon and had to leave the game.

There was also a potential delay of game by the Blues that was not called.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer stuck with goalie Martin Jones to start off the third period and it paid off. Jones blocked a potential hat trick shot from Perron among other saves.

The Sharks’ Justin Braun being hit up high was another controversial non-call.

With less than a minute left in the game, Joe Pavelski had the helper on the goal that sent both teams to overtime. He was denied with his own shot up front 10 seconds before.

It was smartly noted by the NBCSN broadcast that because of two straight icings, Parayko, who had been shutting down Couture, was not on ice when Couture scored.

Both Couture and Jones said, “we’ve got to play better” and Jones cited “turnovers, lost battles.”

Up Next: Game 4 remains in St. Louis for Friday’s match at 5 pm.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast with Barbara Mason: Decision at Kentucky Derby impacts the event; Warriors-Rockets could be evenly matched teams; plus more

Photo credit: apnews.com

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast with Barbara Mason:

#1 How much of an impact was the decision of the officials at the Kentucky Derby to eliminate and disqualify Maximum Security and allow Country House the winner? The first time a winning horse has ever been disqualified in 145 years.

#2 With the Golden State Warriors, you never know what team is going to show up, They handled the Houston Rockets in first two games with a four-point win in Game 1 and a six-point win in Game 2, but it was Game 3 where they lost to the Rockets by five and lost another one in game 4 on Wednesday night as the series is tied 2-2.

#3 After having two comeback victories against the Cincinnati Reds during their four-game series, the San Francisco Giants split with the Reds, losing Monday. Giants starter Drew Pomeranz got lit up in 1.2 innings, nine hits and seven runs. While striking out two batters, Pomeranz continues to labor in the 12-4 loss.

#4 The LPGA Mediheal Championship was held at Lake Merced in Daly City from April 29th through May 5th. The leaderboard showed Sei Young Kim taking the $270,000 winnings finishing on top with a par 281 on Sunday.

#5 The San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche battled in Game 6. The Avs came away with a 4-3 win to tie the series in overtime 3-3, to force a Game 7, bringing the game back to San Jose.

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury Pi-Gonzalez for That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast at www,sportsradioservice.com

Avalanche Tie Series with 4-3 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The Colorado Avalanche edged the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 with a 4-3 win at SAP Center Sunday, tying the second round playoff series at one apiece. Avs’ goals came from Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Matt Nieto and Nathan MacKinnon. Sharks’ goals came from Evander Kane and Brent Burns (2). Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves for Colorado, while Martin Jones made 28 saves on 31 shots for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “I thought we did a good job early on, we just let them hang around too long.”

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson elaborated on the same theme:

I think that we played well, we did a lot of good things out there. Just couldn’t find a way to score goals and got a little frustrated as the game went along and started doing our own thing a little too much. We know that doesn’t work in here and you know we should have learned by now but we didn’t. They capitalized on the chances they got and made us play from behind.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer pointed to the Sharks’ net-front presence as an issue: “I thought it was a pretty even game. I thought we didn’t get to their net enough. We had some real good looks where he made a couple big saves but I thought we could have made it a little tougher on him traffic-wise on our point shots. And I thought we could have done a better job in front of Jonesy, you know, on their point shots.”

Evander Kane started the scoring at 7:57 of the first. Kane was in front of the net and got behind Cale Makar as a blueline shot from Brent Burns came in. With a couple of strong moves, he fended off Makar and put the puck past Grubauer. Assists went to Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl. It was Kane’s second of the playoffs.

Colorado tied it up at 8:21. Tyson Barrie took a shot from the blue line into traffic and it went off of Gabriel Landeskog right on the edge of the blue paint. It was Landeskog’s second of the playoffs. Assists went to Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche got a lead on a goal from Tyson Barrie at 16:31. The play could have easily been called an icing, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the first to the hash marks, but the officials did not call it and play continued on.

After the game, Vlasic said “I’ll take the high road and wait for the League’s apology tomorrow.”

Barrie’s shot came from above the face-off circle when the puck emerged from a battle by the other side of the net. Jones was coming across from that and could not stop Barrie’s shot. Assists went to Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Colorado’s lead expanded at 10:10 of the third. Martin Jones looked like he thought he had the puck frozen under him but it was slowly moving behind him. Brenden Dillon got his stick in there to push it away from the goal line but he hit it a little too hard and it bounced off of Jones back into the net. The goal went to Matt Nieto, his third of the playoffs. Assists went to Matt Calvert and Barrie.

The Sharks had some good luck in the form of Alexander Kerfoot’s broken skate, which left Brent Burns free to move and shoot without Kerfoot getting in his way. Burns did just that and brought the Sharks within one at 15:26. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen.

That Sharks momentum was shattered when, moments later, Timo Meier allowed his stick to get into Nathan MacKinnon’s skate and that put the Avalanche on a power play. The Sharks killed off the penalty, but had little time to get the tying goal. With just over a minute to go, they pulled their goaltender for the extra skater. Nathan MacKinnon got control of the puck and put it in the empty net at 18:58. Assists went to Calvert and Philipp Grubauer.

The Sharks did get that third goal, in a 17-second power play at the end of the game. Four skaters battled for puck in the slot, but Tomas Hertl got to it first and tapped it ahead to Burns, who was moving through the outside of the face-off circle. He had a clear shot and he took it. Assists went to Hertl and Kane. That left the Sharks 10 more seconds to tie it with a fourth but they couldn’t get that done.

Melker Karlsson left the game late in the third period after being crushed against the glass by Derick Brassard.

Game 3 will be Tuesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Start Round Two With a Win, Beat Avalanche 5-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks won 5-2 Friday, defeating the Colorado Avalanche in the first game of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite giving up the first goal, the Sharks roared back with three unanswered goals in the second period. The Sharks have scored five goals in four our of five playoff games this season. It has almost become a habit for them. Joe Thornton, Gus Nyquist, Kevin Labanc, Brent Burns and Timo Meier scored for the Sharks. Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson scored for the Avalanche. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win, while Philipp Grubauer made 22 saves in the loss.

The Avs opened the scoring at 2:10 of the first period. Cale Makar put the puck on net with an awkward shot from the blue line. Jones stopped that, but left a rebound. Gabriel Bourque was moving across in front of the net as the rebound came out, so was able to sweep it around Jones near the post. Assists went to Makar and Tyson Jost. It was Bourque’s first of the playoffs.

Gus Nyquist tied the game, scoring his first of the playoffs in a remarkably similar fashion at 14:44. From an offensive zone face-off, Brent Burns got the puck and moved to the high slot for the shot. His shot deflected off of some traffic, but still got to Grubauer, who kicked out a rebound. Gus Nuquist was there to put it around the goalie and in. Assists went to Burns and Logan Couture.

The Avs had a goal called back due to a distinct kicking motion before the end of the period, so the teams went into the first intermission still tied at 1. Colorado outshot San Jose 13-9 in the first and won 47% of the face-offs.

Colorado got their first power play at 2:46 of the second. After a very good chance in the first minute, they scored in the second. Mikko Rantanen sent a hard pass from the boards to the slot, where Colin Wilson deflected it to the net through traffic. The puck touched another skate or stick before going under Jones. The goal went to Wilson with assists to Rantanen and Nathan McKinnon. It was Wilson’s third of the playoffs.

Moments after that goal, Brenden Dillon went to the box for four minutes after a high stick that drew blood from J.T. Compher. The Sharks were able to kill that off with good sticks that helped them get the puck clear a few times.

The Sharks tied it up not long after that kill. Marcus Sorensen blocked a shot in the Sharks zone, then took the puck the other way. Joe Thornton went with him, making it a two-on-one. Sorensen carried the puck well past the blue line and then sent it across to Thornton, who put it it away with a broad swipe of a shot. Sorensen got the assist. That was Thornton’s second of these playoffs.

Kevin Labanc gave the Sharks their first lead of the game at 16:02 with some nifty skating around the defense and a sharp wrister into the top corner. That was Labanc’s third of the playoffs. An assist went to Burns.

Marcus Sorensen provided a screen as he prepared to deflect a Brent Burns shot from the half boards. Cale Makar jostled him so he could not do that, but the shot went off of Makar instead. The puck went in on the far side of the net at 19:00. Assists went to Sorensen and Thornton, who had retrieved the puck from behind the net, sending it up the boards to Burns. It was Burns’ second of the playoffs.

The Sharks outshot Colorado 13-11 in the second, and won 43% of the face-offs.

The game finished with an almost scoreless, penalty-free third period. Colorado pulled their goaltender with a little more than two minutes to go but the Sharks held them off.

Timo Meier scored into the empty net at 19:31 to give the Sharks the fifth goal. A few seconds later, Matt Calvert and Brenden Dillon exchanged slashing penalties. Calvert got a double minor for that and Dillon just 2 minutes.

Game 2 will be Sunday at SAP Center in San Jose at 4:30 PM PT.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Joe Thornton Suspended for Game 4

Photo credit: @Deadspin

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks will be down one more player for Game Four of their first round playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Joe Thornton has been suspended by the NHL for one game after an illegal check to the head of Tomas Nosek in Game Three.

As Nosek came out of the corner after retrieving the puck in the defensive zone, he was pitched forward and his head was still down after defending the puck from Brenden Dillon. Thornton was coming out from behind the net and moving as if to help get the puck from Nosek. The collision occurred after Nosek got rid of the puck and while the play was starting to move the other way. Thornton’s shoulder made contact with Nosek’s head as they passed.

A minor penalty was called at 16:45 of the second period. Nosek did not skate again in the second period but did return for the third.

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and forward Micheal Haley are both listed as day-to-day. Vlasic was injured blocking a shot in Game Two, so missed the rest of that game and Game Three. Haley was also injured blocking a shot early in the second period of Game Three and missed the rest of Sunday’s game.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Golden Knights Take 2-1 Series Lead with 6-3 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 6-3, scoring a first-minute goal in all three periods. Three Vegas goals came from Mark Stone, two from Paul Stastny and one from Max Pacioretty. For the Sharks, goals came from Kevin Labanc, Logan Couture and Timo Meier. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for the Vegas win, while Martin Jones made 34 saves in the Sharks loss.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer talked about the high-scoring line of Stastny, Stone and Pacioretty:

They’ve eaten us up here this series so far, so, we haven’t had an answer for them. What do they do well? I mean you’ve got three very good players that are playing at a really high level right now. So, you know, that is part of the issue. We’ve got to find an answer to slow those guys down.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski talked about the impact of early goals against, summarizing it as: “It’s tough to keep it going or get it back when you do that at the start.” Forward Logan Couture also talked those period starts, saying “they made some nice plays but we’ve got to be ready to start periods.”

On his goaltender’s performance, Couture said: “I think he made a lot of saves. I mean, you look at that game, their power play chances, their chances in the slot, he made a lot of big saves. They could have had eight tonight. Some of their goals, you can’t give up breakaways, two on ones, and let a guy walk past the half way mark in the crease. You’re just asking for trouble.”

Yet again, Vegas scored early the game, putting the Sharks down by one just 18 seconds in. Right off of the opening face-off, Erik Karlsson’s pass missed its mark and ended up on Mark Stone’s stick. Stone charged into the zone, pursued by Sharks, and scored with a back hand. Assists went to Nate Schmidt and Deryk Engellund.

Max Pacioretty gave Vegas a 2-0 lead at 12:16 with a power play goal. Evander Kane was in the box for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. Pacioretty’s shot was the first of the power play and only took five seconds. The face-off was still dispersing when Pacioretty shot from near the point. His shot went through some traffic and between Justin Braun’s legs. Assists went to Shea Theodore and Paul Stastny.

The Sharks got one back late in the period at 15:16. Joe Thornton got to the puck behind the net and made a quick back hand pass up to Kevin Labanc as Labanc skated to the net. Labanc took the shot some feet from the blue paint, then collided with Colin Miller in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights challenged the goal for goaltender interference but the goal was upheld. Assists went to Thornton and Marcus Sorensen.

The Golden Knights outshot the Sharks 20-12 in the first period, and won 59% of the face-offs.

Paul Stastny restored the Golden Knights’ two-goal lead 21 seconds into the second period. Pacioretty took a shot from the slot and the rebound went to Stastny out beyond the traffic around the net. He took a shot from above the face-off dot and it went by two Sharks defenders and under their goaltender. Assists went to Pacioretty and Stone.

The Sharks got their first power play at 10:02 of the second period. The Golden Knights had already had three.

Stastny added another goal at 16:04, on the sixth Vegas power play. This time, it was Kevin Labanc in the box for interference against Ryan Reaves. The Sharks had killed off most of the penalty when Mark Stone made an impressive pass across the slot, evading skates and sticks, right to Stastny for the shot. Jones was still trying to get across when the puck went in. Assists went to Stone and Theodore.

Las Vegas outshot San Jose 10-7 in the second period, but only won 40% of the face-offs.

The Sharks made some line changes for the third. Gus Nyquist moved to Logan Couture’s line with Timo Meier. Joe Pavelski moved to Tomas Hertl’s line with Evander Kane.

The Golden Knights scored a third first-minute goal in the third, this time 36 seconds in. Mark Stone’s pass to Jonathan Marchessault became a rebound that Stone was in a perfect spot to tap in. Assists went to Marchessault and Stastny.

At 4:57, the Sharks scored on their third power play. William Karlsson was in the box for slashing Tomas Hertl. Early in the power play, Marc-Andre Fleury lost his glove while on his back after a shot almost went in. The whistle went and the delay allowed conflict to erupt, resulting in matching roughing penalties for Brent Burns and Tomas Nosek.

Erik Karlsson’s neutral zone pass found Logan Couture just above the blue line. Couture carried it down the side past the face-off dot and sent the puck to the net where Pavelski was arriving for a deflection. The puck never reached Pavelski as Brayden McNabb’s stick got in the way and directed the puck past his own goaltender. The goal went to Couture with assists to Karlsson and Martin Jones.

Timo Meier scored a third goal for the Sharks at 5:51. Gus Nyquist took a shot from in close created a rebound that went right to Meier in the slot. Meier’s shot was just too quick for Fleury to catch. Nyquist got the assist.

Those two quick goals were followed by a lull in scoring, until Mark Stone got his third of the game at 13:57, restoring the three-goal lead for Vegas. A neutral zone interception sent Stone and Stastny into the Sharks zone. Stastny sent the puck off the boards to Stone, who skated to the net, faked to the right and shot to left with a backhand. Assists went to Stastny and Theodore.

Vegas outshot the Sharks 40-28 in the game and won 53% of the face-offs.

Sharks forward Micheal Haley was injured blocking a shot in the second period and did not return. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, injured the same way in Friday’s game, was not in the lineup Sunday and was replaced by Tim Heed.

Game four will be on Tuesday in Las Vegas at 7:30 PM PT.

Sharks’ Season Ends With 3-0 Loss to Golden Knights

Photo credit: @TheVegasRealm

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Sharks’ season ended with a 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at the SAP Center Sunday. The Game 6 win makes the Golden Knights the third NHL team to win two rounds in the playoffs in their inaugural season. Goals came from Jonathan Marchessault, Nate Schmidt and Cody Eakin. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for Vegas’ shutout win. Martin Jones made 30 saves in a losing effort for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said: “We just didn’t find a way to put any pucks in the net. You know we had some opportunities early, a couple of power plays and some really good looks. And whether a puck spun off or got a skate on it or whatever kind of happened, it was. I think our opportunities early were there to take that lead.”

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer gave his assessment of the series after the game:

We knew their game was for real and I thought there was some swing moments in the series when you win and when you lose. But the bottom line for me is we were just chasing the game. Every game in the series other than the 4-0 win here at home. I thought we had some good starts, had some quality chances early in a lot of those games, and Fleury I thought was great early in a lot of those games, allowed them to get their feet under them and then we’re chasing five of the six games.

Asked about what he thought of the Pavelski, Kane, Donskoi line, DeBoer said:

I’m not dissecting it. I can tell you this, you got a guy who’s playing center that hasn’t played center in years that steps up and plays as the number one center. So you know if you’re going to negatively dissect their play, you’re talking to the wrong guy. You can do that. These guys…. Our number one center went down, these guys jumped in, filled roles didn’t complain, battled their ass off right to the buzzer in every single game even when we were down.

The Sharks were on the power play in the first minute of the game, thanks to a tripping call drawn by Tomas Hertl. The Sharks got two shots during the power play, but the Golden Knights got one on a breakaway for Willam Karlsson.

Just 5:39 into the period, a flurry of activity in front of the Sharks net ended with Martin Jones being pushed into the net as the whistle blew. Evidently the puck crossed the line with the goalie, but an NHL initiated review determined that the whistle had been blown before the puck went in.

Near the nine-minute mark, Tomas Hertl had a breakaway, but hit the crossbar. He retrieved the puck and got it to Logan Couture for a good chance, but that shot did not go in either. A scramble in front of Fleury followed, but the puck still stayed out.

After the next faceoff in the Vegas zone, Brayden McNabb sent the puck over the glass. After an extensive review to see if it touched a Sharks stick, the penalty was called. The Sharks took a couple of good shots before Vegas cleared the puck. Seconds after that penalty expired, Evander Kane was called for tripping Reilly Smith. The Sharks killed that off without letting the power play spend a lot of time in the zone.

At even strength after the power play, it was a different story. The Golden Knights spent a lot of time in the Sharks zone. Their fourth line in particular was very effective.

Despite not spending much time on offense, the Sharks had another good chance off a blue line shot from Joakim Ryan in the last three minutes. Timo Meier reached to push it in, but did not get there. That sequence seemed to energize the Sharks and they held the zone for quite a spell. Brent Burns had a shot deflected by Evander Kane, but it went off the crossbar. It fell at Joonas Donskoi’s feet by the post, but he couldn’t get it over the line either.

The teams finished the period almost even in shots, 12-11 Vegas.

The teams started the second period a little bit slowly, with more than four minutes of play going by before the first shot was counted. It went to Vegas, and another minute of play went by before the Sharks got a shot on goal.

It was the third shot of the period that went in, at 6:33, a goal from the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault. A failed clear by Marc-Edouard Vlasic ended up on Reilly Smith’s stick. He found Marchessault with an open net. Assists went to Smith and William Karlsson.

The Golden Knights almost scored again at 8:31 left in the first, when Martin Jones came out to stop a shot from Brayden McNabb and was completely out of the net when Smith got a chance at the rebound. Chris Tierney was in the paint and blocked the shot. The Sharks followed it up with good zone time, but all of their shots seemed to hit bodies and skates.

The second Vegas goal came with as little fanfare as a goal can have: most seemed to miss it and play continued. A horn went a few moments later, alerting all that something was wrong. On review, Nate Schmidt scored with a shot from the blue line that hit the post and went off the goal net camera. David Perron won an offensive zone faceoff against Chris Tierney and slid the puck to Eric Haula on the wall. Haula got the puck to Schmidt. The time of the goal was 15:38.

By the halfway mark of the third period, the shot count was 11-3 in favor of Vegas. The Golden Knights did not let up. DeBoer pulled Martin Jones with 2:15 left in the period. The Sharks got a couple of shots in the 15 seconds before Ryan Carpenter and Cody Eakin broke away to score on the empty net. It was Eakin’s third goal of the playoffs and Carpenter’s third assist. An additional assist went to Nate Schmidt.

That was it, except for the handshake.

The schedule for the Western and Eastern conference final rounds are yet to be determined, as the two series (Jets-Predators, Capitals-Penguins) are still ongoing.

Sharks Fall 5-3 to Golden Knights, Trail in Series 3-2

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.

Jones Shuts Out Golden Knights 4-0; Sharks Even Series 2-2

Photo credit: @PR_NHL

By Matthew Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks turned their best-of-seven series against the Vegas Golden Knights into a best-of-three, beating the visitors 4-0 Wednesday night at the SAP Center to even the series 2-2. Martin Jones authored a 34-save shutout, his second of the playoffs, while helping San Jose’s penalty kill go 5-for-5.

Tomas Hertl scored his team-best fifth goal of the playoffs, Joonas Donskoi lit the lamp in his return to the lineup after a one-game layoff and Marcus Sorensen scored the game-winner. Joe Pavelski broke out of his mini-slump with his first goal since Game 3 of the Anaheim Ducks series and Logan Couture dished a pair of assists.

The spring of Sorensen continued, with the Swede forward scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs 15:37 into the first period in a superhuman effort. Sorensen circled the Vegas net, working his way back into the slot before losing his balance on a Colin Miller trip to Fleury’s right. He still managed to fire the puck mid-fall à la Bobby Orr top-shelf before the Golden Knights’ keeper could ever make his push across the net for a 1-0 San Jose lead.

“It was huge,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer on the game-opening strike. “We’ve been chasing the lead the whole series. We talked about it, but it’s easier said than done. We’ve had chances in the last two games to get out front but [Marc-Andre] Fleury’s been exceptional early in games in order to keep us off the board. It’s nice that we stuck with it. Hopefully, we see some cracks.”

The Sharks looked like they were going to head to the locker room with a one-goal lead, but another fantastic individual effort from a San Jose forward led to a 2-0 cushion with just six seconds left in the first. Joonas Donskoi, absent from the lineup in Game 3, went coast-to-coast before beating Fleury over his glove with Vegas’ Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt trying to close in on him in the slot. Brenden Dillon picked up his second assist of the game after serving up a helper on Sorensen’s strike as well.

Tomas Hertl had arguably his best game of the series, firing three shots on net over 18:58 minutes while being a force around and behind the Vegas net. The Sharks forward scored his team-leading fifth goal of the postseason after parking himself in front of Fleury and shoveling a loose puck past through the scrambling netminder 5:35 into the second. Mikkel Boedker picked up an assist after firing the initial shot and Logan Couture had a secondary assist with the Sharks leading 3-0.

Joe Pavelski scored his first goal of the series, just his second of the playoffs, on the powerplay late in the third period after Fleury challenged Pavelski on the edge of the crease. Pavelski jammed at the puck till it flipped around Fleury’s left pad for a 4-0 lead with 8:17 in regulation. Couture drew his second assist on the goal while Brent Burns picked up a helper as well.

“They won the netfront battle at both ends,” said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant. “When you do that you win the game.”

Vegas vented its frustration in the final minutes, collecting a pair of penalties to put the Sharks on a 5-on-3 man advantage as time expired, but Team Teal couldn’t convert. In total, Vegas committed 22 minutes worth of penalties, with post-season hits leader William Carrier drawing a 10-minute misconduct to go with a roughing double-minor with 1:52 left in regulation.

The Sharks lineup remained a mystery up till puck drop, with Evander Kane missing the morning skate and Joe Thornton and Barclay Goodrow flanking Joe Pavelski on the top line at the morning practice. Ultimately, the only lineup change besides the return of Donskoi was the insertion of Joakim Ryan in Paul Martin’s place at defense. Martin was victimized most notably on William Karlsson’s overtime winner in Game 3 while Ryan showed promise in Game 4, including covering for Brent Burns to breakup a breakaway in the first period. Ryan finished the night with one blocked shot over 11:55 of ice time in his first career postseason contest.

“He did a good job,” said DeBoer of Ryan. “We didn’t win tonight because of Ryan, we didn’t lose last time because of Paul Martin. Our team game the last three games has been really good. The difference tonight was they were 0-5 on the power play and we snuck some goals in.”

The series shifts to Vegas Friday night, but the Sharks victory assures at least one more home game. If the Sharks were to win Game 5 in Vegas, they’d have a chance to finish out the series on home ice Sunday. The best guess will be that DeBoer rides the same 18 skaters for Friday’s tilt.