The San Jose Sharks (45-27-10, 3rd Pacific) made this a best of three series with a dominant win at home over the Vegas Golden Knights (51-24-7, 1st Pacific) in game four on Wednesday. The 4-0 victory marked Vegas' first regulation loss and first shut out loss in this (or any) post season, as the Sharks continue to make history. Our good boys could take their first series lead tonight, but a best of three series when two of the games are in Las Vegas is not ideal.
The Sharks have looked like the better team in every game this series excepting game one, to which they were strangely not invited. According to our friends at Elias Sports Bureau, the team that wins game five in a series tied at two has gone on to win the series in 78.9 percent of cases, so it could be said that tonight is the most important game of the playoffs so far for both teams. I won't say that, but it's important to me that you know that I could.
As Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury dances a sad tango with that cruel mistress called regression, Sharks keeper Martin Jones' stock is on the rise. After allowing three (3!) goals in his first five games these playoffs (the last one barely counts, since it was against a series of empty Sharks jerseys thrown haphazardly across the ice), the man they call Flower has allowed 11 in his past three. Jones, on the other hand, has rebounded nicely from a forgettable game one to a respectable .927 in the last three contests, including his sixth career post season shut out.
Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant appears hopeful to stem the tide of the Sharks' offense with some significant line up changes tonight. If this morning's skate is to be any indicator of future events, the Knights will scratch Tomases Tatar and Nosek up front, and Jon Merrill on the back end in favor of Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, and Luca Sbisa. While the forward changes and impressive top six make sense for a team trying to shut down the Logan Couture Tomas Hertl juggernaut, the Merrill for Sbisa swap is a head scratcher. Merrill has been solid against the Sharks, and Sbisa hasn't played since 27 February.
Regardless, the Sharks will hope to take advantage of an rusty blue line tonight to grab a win and a stranglehold on this series.
Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc
Marcus Sorensen -- Eric Fehr -- Melker Karlsson
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Paul Martin, Joel Ward, Jannik Hansen, Dylan Gambrell
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee)
Golden Knights Lines
Jonathan Marchessault -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch -- Erik Haula -- James Neal
Ryan Carpenter -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch
William Carrier -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Oscar Lindberg
Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore -- Deryk Engelland
Luca Sbisa -- Colin Miller
Scratched: Tomas Tatar, Brad Hunt, Jon Merrill, Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App