The top two teams in the Pacific Division went toe-to-toe for the final time this season, with the San Jose Sharks a win away from clinching their seventh trip to the playoffs in eight years. On the other side, the Golden Knights were a win away from clinching the Pacific Division.
It was announced this morning that Joonas Donskoi would draw into the lineup for this important clash. Donskoi hasn’t played since March 14, when he left the game due to a shoulder injury. With a revolving door of injuries to the Sharks, it’ll be important to get everyone’s feet wet before playoffs and getting Donskoi back into the lineup was one step forward toward a fully healthy roster.
The Vegas faithful didn’t have to wait long for their guys to get on the board, as early into the first Shea Theodore caught a pass from William Karlsson and ripped it past Jones to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. It was Theodore’s fifth goal of the season.
SHEA THEODORE BLASTS ONE PAST JONES AND VEGAS LEADS 1-0! pic.twitter.com/a9hThC9xY8— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 1, 2018
The Sharks attempted to turn the game around following that quick deficit, and after a number of opportunities, Joe Pavelski capitalized off a shot from Timo Meier to tie the game. The goal came off a rebound that Ryan Reaves attempted to poke away, but to no avail.
The Sharks and Knights exchanged chances before the first period expired, and left the ice deadlocked at one goal each. The Sharks had an advantage of three shot attempts at the end of the first: 23 for them, 20 for Vegas.
Vegas was once again quick off the draw for the second period, as a poor turnover by Timo Meier led to Oscar Lindberg’s eighth goal of the campaign. The Swede, who came from the New York Rangers in the expansion draft, tipped home a shot from Shea Theodore on a play that Martin Jones wishes he could get a do-over on to give Vegas the advantage.
OSCAR LINDBERG TIPS ONE HOME FOR VEGAS! pic.twitter.com/h2PSzJvpgg— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 1, 2018
It was at this point in the game that Vegas started to pull ahead of the Sharks — but Marc-Edouard Vlasic made sure that the Sharks weren’t going to go down that easy.
In what has seemed to be a recurring theme in these matchups, Gerard Gallant decided to throw out the red flag and challenge for goaltender interference. After a few minutes, the call on the ice stood.
The Sharks found their mojo after that goal and slowly started to climb back into the game, but the horn sounded and both teams headed to their locker rooms, once again tied.
Vegas came out for the third period scorching hot — per hockeystats.ca, they led the Sharks 61-47 in shot attempts early in the third.
When Timo Meier was tripped up, the tide seemed to be turning for the Sharks. Could they get that elusive power play goal, the goal that would (hopefully) send them to the dance again?
They could not.
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong: A disastrous drop pass from Joe Pavelski led to the man they call “Wild Bill,” William Karlsson, completely undressing Martin Jones for his 42nd goal of the season.
WILLIAM KARLSSON WITH THE FILTH! BETWEEN-THE-LEGS STUNNER WHILE SHORTHANDED TO PUT VEGAS UP!— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 1, 2018
UNBELIEVABLE! WOW! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY INSANE! pic.twitter.com/yIQRftEE0z
I want to say “I’m not even mad; that’s amazing.” But I cannot. This breakaway saw barely any back-checking from Brent Burns, who currently sports a 1513 corsi against.
After this goal, the Sharks looked completely deflated. They never seemed to have any momentum after that goal, and it showed. With Karlsson’s game-winner, the Knights went on to win the game, and consequently, the Pacific Division, whereas the Sharks will have to wait yet again to punch their ticket, riding a three-game losing streak.
Tonight’s rolling Corsi:
- Shea Theodore seems to be becoming a Shark-killer. He once again led the Golden Knights in corsi for percentage against the Sharks, sporting a 64.44 percentage tonight.
- In more bad trends, the power play corps could not get it done. There were only two power play opportunities, but they couldn’t enter the offensive zone cleanly. It didn’t help that they never generated any real chances.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic apparently received a game misconduct at the end of the game. I could see him yelling at someone on the ice as he left for the dressing room, but it’s unclear who it was directed towards.