Fueled by handing the Golden Knights their first-ever franchise playoff loss, the Sharks hoped that they could take charge of a split series tonight. From the start, they looked like a team that was ready and able to win, even without the services of Joonas Donskoi, who sat out thanks to a lower body injury.
Despite a strong start from the Sharks, just five minutes into the game, Mikkel Boedker made a mess of a play, tossing the puck back to the blueline, where there was no one in teal awaiting it. The resulting turnover wound up on the stick of Erik Haula, who tested Martin Jones early. In Boedker’s defense, there were two San Jose forwards behind the blueline — just not anywhere near where he passed the puck.
Just a few minutes later, Chris Tierney made a decent showing in his newfound top line position. Joe Pavelski won an offensive zone face off, got puck to Tierney, who twirled it around a few Knights players before taking a shot at Marc-Andre Fleury. Tomas Hertl followed it up with a stellar chance of his own, making it seem certain the dam would break.
Late in the first, Boedker took a delay of game penalty. After how well that Sharks had been playing through the first fifteen minutes, a power play goal by the Knights would’ve been deflating, but thankfully, they were able to kill it off. They closed out the period with the top line doing the most to bang a loose puck in after a shot from Evander Kane along the boards.
In the first minute of the second period, Reilly Smith hooked Marc-Edouard Vlasic, putting the Sharks on their first power play of the night. It took a full minute and 20 seconds before Knights cleared the puck out of the zone. It was a picture-perfect power play, except for the part where they didn’t score.
They made up for it later on. Boedker was tripped by William Carrier and Timo Meier broke open scoring, putting the Sharks on the board first for the first time in this series.
One minute later, Vegas entered the zone offside and in what would become a pattern in this game, the linesmen missed it, choosing instead to call Brenden Dillon for holding on David Perron and giving Vegas a power play. Colin Miller got it past Jones for a tying power play goal.
With seven minutes left in the second, Hertl took a senseless penalty on James Neal. Neal came in to hit Hertl, Hertl braced himself for the hit and ended up elbowing Neal in the head. Jonathan Marchessault cashed in on the power play to give Vegas their first lead of the night. With five minutes left in the middle frame, Reilly Smith extended that lead to 3-1, taking advantage of a rare opportunity of the Vlasic-Braun pairing not being on the ice against Vegas’ top line.
Both teams exchanged power play opportunities, but there were no more goals in the second. The Knights took their 3-1 lead into the third.
The Sharks had a tall task ahead of them to come back, but they woke back up after the intermission. Just after a crosschecking call on Jon Merrill expired halfway through the third, Evander Kane brought the Sharks within one (that crosschecking lay also saw an uncalled high stick on Dylan DeMelo). Brent Burns made a backhand pass to Kane, who shot it toward the net while Logan Couture set up a screen in front of Fleury.
Vegas challenged for interference from Couture, but the goal stood.
It came down to the wire and while everyone waited for Pete DeBoer to pull Jones for an extra skater, the Sharks made work jamming and banging up front to get a shot past Fleury. Tomas Hertl tied the game while Jones stayed in his crease.
Playoff game-tying goal is fun always!— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) May 1, 2018
Hertl ties it 3-3 pic.twitter.com/xiQeE8NpHk
The overtime period wasn’t very kind to the Sharks. First, they took a penalty for having hella skaters on the ice. Hertl and Couture led the way for a decent short-handed chance by Brent Burns, but ultimately, neither team ended the game here.
Fleury then kept Couture from winning it in an absolute robbery.
So close from having a different result pic.twitter.com/eKz6DhplM0— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) May 1, 2018
To add insult to injury, about thirty seconds later, the refs deliberated before sending Couture to the box for delay of game. Though the Sharks killed the penalty, William Karlsson eventually won it for Vegas in overtime, thanks to a terrible read by Paul Martin.
The Sharks put a lot of pressure close to Fleury tonight and it paid off. Vegas, meanwhile, tried to make work in the slot.
A little too close for comfort, but the Sharks never gave up.
- There may have been some justified skepticism, but the top line featuring Tierney had 100% corsi-for in the first period. While matched against Vegas’ top line, no less.
- Hooooooooly hell, Paul Martin. The resurgence of the Wookie Whisperer may have been greatly exaggerated. Burns is no defensive genius, either. The pair of them made a lot of crucial mistakes, but the Martin play on the game-winning goal was inexcusable. Time to free Joakim Ryan?
- Couture lead the Sharks on the power play with five shots on goal.
- Both of Timo Meier’s goals so far this post-season have been power play goals.
- This loss was frustrating. The Sharks played like the better team. Fleury is stealing games for them left and right. Putting up 42 shots on any other goaltender would have had a much different result.