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.