Despite a strong start, it wasn’t in the cards for the San Jose Sharks, who were booed off the ice after a 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in their home opener. Vegas tallied two shorthanded goals against Martin Jones, making that three shorthanded goals against Jones over the first two games.
For the most part, the Sharks played a more disciplined game tonight, that resulted in a noticeable improvement in play, until the frustration from not scoring led to a massive scrum after Barclay Goodrow scored the Sharks’ first and only goal. Four different players were given game misconduct penalties with six minutes remaining in the game, including 40-year-old, 6-foot-4 Joe Thornton, who took several swings at 26-year-old and allegedly “6-foot-1” William Karlsson.
Before you get out your pitchforks and start declaring yourselves New Jersey Devils fans, this was a much better game than they played on Wednesday and there are some positives to take away. Mario Ferraro had a monster game, tallying his first NHL point on the Goodrow goal. There were enough good saves by Martin Jones that at one point, I almost genuinely believed that this game wouldn’t end in a total blowout. The power play looked less anemic than Wednesday and Bergmann had a great game, as well. We didn’t even have to see Dalton Prout attempt to play hockey.
But we did have to see an extremely smug Ryan Reaves and maybe that’s worse.
Hello, folks! It’s Sie here with y’all for the puck drop. Managed to get home and pull up the game just before the players skated out. Home opener, let’s go!
19:50: Lukas Radil to Tomas Hertl for a quick chance in front of the net right from the jump, loving that.
18:17: The Sharks are managing to get into the offensive zone much more successfully in the first couple of minutes here than in the entire game on Wednesday.
18:05: Lean Bergmann just shoved a Knight into Deryk Engelland during a stoppage in play and then they each took a swing at each other, incredible.
16:35: Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson were playing together for a bit there.
16:08: Logan Couture took a stick to the face during a shift change. Ouch.
15:12: A bit of action in front of Martin Jones, who hasn’t been tested much yet.
14:59: Real quick breakout of the neutral zone for Vegas and a shot from William Carrier beats Martin Jones five-hole. 1-0, Vegas.
12:50: The Timo Meier — Logan Couture tandem is so good.
12:01: A shot and a rebound stopped by Jones. That’s better.
10:55: This game is going so much faster than the last one, thank god.
9:59: It seems like the Sharks have done some shuffling of the D, experimenting with a couple pairings. I’ve mostly noticed that Karlsson has played shifts with Burns, Brenden Dillon and Mario Ferraro.
8:35: The Sharks aren’t necessarily dominating, but they are at least holding their own and exchanging chances with Vegas. Much better from Team Teal tonight.
8:18: Big save from Jones. I definitely feel better about him so far over these two games.
7:10: Karlsson the Better with a shot just wide of the net.
6:23: Not gonna lie, I forgot Jacob Middleton was playing in this game. Haven’t seen much of him until now.
5:51: Jonathan Marchessault tips a shot in the slot that gets past Jones. Both goals were so quick after a turnover, it’s brutal. 2-0, Sharks.
5:24: Great save from Jones on Cody Glass.
3:55: Dylan Gambrell is just ... so bad.
3:26: Lean Bergmann .............. hello.
1:57: Danil Yurtaykin set up Couture, but Marc-Andre Fleury is on it.
END FIRST: Golden Knights 2, Sharks 0
Not the worst it could be, and honestly not as bad as the score reflects. The Sharks are losing the Corsi war at about a 60/40 split (when adjusted for score and venue at 5-on-5). They’re much more disciplined tonight, though, and have had a couple of good chances.
19:17: William Karlsson to the box for interference on Karlsson. Almost looked like he kicked his foot out from under him, but on the replay I think he just pulled him backward by the shoulder. Sharks power play, which desperately needs to improve.
18:50: Weird conflicting calls from officials about Burns playing a puck with a high stick, resulting in a stoppage in play.
18:14: Couture takes another stick to the face, no call.
17:44: Second power play until is ... so sad. At least they put out Karlsson and Yurtaykin.
17:17: Penalty killed.
16:23: Meier with a quick shot.
13:54: Vegas is getting a lot of chances up front, but the Sharks are shooting from all over. Quality not quantity, fellas.
13:04: Penalty to Max Pacioretty for tripping Bergmann. Nice to see the Sharks drawing penalties instead of taking them this time around.
11:40: The power play looks so much better than on Wednesday, but Dylan Gambrell is so bad. I know that Sharks have limited options, but I am begging Pete personally to take him off special teams. Please.
9:40: Poor Mario Ferraro takes a penalty and now it’s Vegas’ turn on the man-advantage. I’m scared.
8:04: Martin Jones, I’ve never said a bad thing about you in my whole entire life ever.
7:19: Mark Stone “scoring a goal” after the whistle is blown.
5:59: Erik Karlsson with a shot from the slot and a LOUD ping from the crossbar, god, I’ve missed him.
5:17: Brandon Pirri with a slashing penalty. Sharks to the power play.
4:38: Brayden McNabb scores shorthanded and my feed freezes, that’s a sign. 3-0, Vegas.
3:11: Jones with dreadful rebound control. Tomas Nosek scores on a two-on-one rush against Joe Thornton.
Looks like they’re reviewing because it didn’t come off his stick.
Deemed off the chest. Good goal. 4-0, Vegas.
1:53: Ferraro seems fearless.
1:25: Bergmann with a shot to Fleury’s chest.
END SECOND: Golden Knights 4, Sharks 0
Less than ideal second period. Apparently the Sharks are being booed on the way to the locker room. Woof.
19:22: My feed froze and now Labanc is hurt??? Looks like a high stick from Jon Merrill. Sharks to the power play.
17:22: Aaaand killed in time for my stream to come back.
16:05: A rare Dylan Gambrell shot on goal.
Mario Ferraro with Ray Tufts after getting hit in the face with ... something? Maybe Reaves’ body? Uh oh.
14:56: Vegas is so quick to take advantage of turnovers and loose pucks. The Sharks need to be quicker.
11:00: Paul Stastny trips Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the Sharks are back to the power play. They’re almost certainly out at the point, but if they could at least avoid a shut out, I’d feel better.
10:17: Tomas Nosek with a shorthanded goal. 5-0, Vegas. Well. Nevermind that feeling good thing.
10:01: Meier for slashing, onto 4-on-4.
8:16: Should I start writing the recap? I’ll start writing the recap.
7:48: Karlsson and Meier come together, but then there’s Fleury.
7:10: Jamie Baker is talking about team chemistry leading to doubt and lack of trust between teammates and I hate to say it, but that’s an intangible that I genuinely believe there’s weight to.
5:55: Ferraro with a shot and Barclay Goodrow scores on the rebound. The players on the ice IMMEDIATELY brawl. Joe Thornton is looming over William Karlsson, holy shit???? AND PUNCHES NOW. GOODROW AND ENGELLAND. KARLSSON AND THORNTON. SORENSEN AND KARLSSON. THORNTON AND MARCHESSAULT. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Oh man, they’re replaying the goal. That’s an absolute beauty from Goodrow.
Ahahaha, Fleury slammed his stick on the ice after the goal. Dude, you allowed one goal, late in the third. It’s fine, ya baby.
Apparently the scrum started with Nicolas Hague spearing Ferarro? Sheesh.
Ferraro, Thornton and Hague get two minutes for roughing .Game misconducts for William Karlsson, Goodrow and Thornton.
1:18: The thing is that I know the players are going to take this loss harder because of Vegas and because back-to-back losses is a shitty way to start the season, but this game was so much better than the first one. Ugh.
FINAL SCORE: Golden Knights 5, Sharks 1
As we all know by now, the NHL, to its detriment, has an obsession with fairness and parity that often comes at the cost of fun. The league’s overtime loser point prevents many in season comebacks (the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues notwithstanding), officials’ make up call penchant prevents dominant power plays from truly punishing undisciplined teams far too often, and the failure-first entry draft forces generational talents like Connor McDavid to slave away in the roster wasteland in the middle of an actual, geographic wasteland that is the Edmonton Oilers.
This year’s NHL schedule maker clearly has no such compunction.
For the third time in as many games, the San Jose Sharks (0-1-0, 8th Pacific) will take on the Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0, 1st Pacific), in another replay of two recent playoff match ups that ended very differently. Sure, it hurts the Sharks standings early in the season. Sure, it makes it harder for San Jose’s rookies to get their feet under them against a team that could top the Western Conference. But are you not entertained?
For all of our sakes, we hope that the return of one of the Sharks’ EKs can help stem the tide of goals that the Knights brought to their home opener on Wednesday. With Evander Kane serving the first of his three-game suspension, and Erik Karlsson out of the lineup for ominous “personal reasons,” the Sharks were absolutely mangled by Vegas in Game 1. The Sharks were out-chanced 31-14, out-attempted 64-43, and out-scored 4-1 as it appeared that only Martin Jones had been told that the preseason was over.
Things are looking up already, though, as it was revealed last night that Karlsson’s absence was not nearly as dire as we may have assumed. The slick Swede and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world, and to say that every human alive is very happy still seems an understatement. On the ice, however, the Sharks will need more than the best defenseman in the world to overcome the depth and star power of the Knights’ roster. Head coach Pete DeBoer was not wrong in saying, “If we don’t play better than we did last game, two Erik Karlsson’s aren’t going to help us win. He’s going to help, but we’ve got to be better as a group.”
That group will have a different shape to it with the addition of Karlsson in place of off-season acquisition Dalton Prout. Prout’s first game in teal was perhaps not his greatest outing, but the overall despondency of the team on Wednesday should urge us to charity in our critiques of his individual play. Still, Prout has played parts of eight seasons in the NHL, never recorded double-digit points, and has tallied 314 penalty minutes over 250 games. At 29, Prout likely is who he is as a player, and comparisons to Roman Polak do not seem unfounded or inspiring.
Prout will sit with an unspecified upper body injury sustained Wednesday night, maybe a sprain to the brain after Marc-Edouard Vlasic tossed a pass right back at him in the first period with no warning leading directly to Vegas’ opening goal. The Knights have a new acquisition of their own, as Nicolas Hague will
score play his first NHL goal game in San Jose tonight in place of the injured Nate Schmidt, injecting some more youth energy into the lineup. Hague’s performance is probably less enhanced than Schmidt’s, but the former Mississauga Steelhead was the first of two second round picks the Knights held in their inaugural 2017 entry draft, at 34th overall, and has recorded 13 goals and 32 points in 80 games over the last two seasons with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
Schmidt is out week to week, according to head coach Gerard Gallant, nursing what looked like a nasty knee injury sustained in a defensive zone collision with Sharks captain Logan Couture. With Schmidt out for the foreseeable future, the Knights will struggle to, oh who am I kidding? They played the first 20 games of last season without the capable defender, suspended for violating the NHL’s performance-enhancing substance policy, and they went 8-11-1 in that span: not pretty, but less than a total disaster, and they didn’t have Mark Stone yet.
There are some milestones to be reached tonight, with Brent Burns sitting on 198 career goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury set to start his 800th NHL game. If the Sharks can manage to slow down some of Vegas’ transition game, get in the way of their East-West puck movement in the offensive zone, and avoid entering the third period with a three-goal deficit, a situation which apparently triggers Vegas’ “crosscheck face” algorithm, they may be able to split this series, and survive to play a different NHL team (rumors abound that there are more than two) tomorrow night.
The Sharks recalled Jacob Middleton from the AHL San Jose Barracuda earlier today, but he is not expected to dress, so that Tim Heed can play his full 80 seconds unhindered. Kane will serve the second of his three-game suspension, which may help keep a lid on the extracurriculars tonight, but after Wednesday, maybe don’t hold your breath.
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty — Cody Glass — Mark Stone
Brandon Pirri — Paul Stastny — Valentin Zykov
William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill — Nick Holden
Nicolas Hague — Deryk Engelland
Expected scratches: Jimmy Schuldt, Nicolas Roy
Injured reserve: Nate Schmidt (knee), Alex Tuch (undisclosed), Cody Eakin (undisclosed)
Hague is the only change to the Knights’ projected lineup, as mentioned above, and if that top nine gives you hives, you are not alone.
Where to watch
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. Pacific/10:30 p.m. Eastern at the ever-aptly named SAP Center in San Jose. It will be broadcast on NBC Sports California in San Jose, Rocky Mountain AT&T SportsNet in Las Vegas, and streamed through ESPN+ and NHL.TV. Audiophiles will be sated through the good work of 98.5 KFOX and the Sharks + SAP Center app.
This one could get ugly, but it also might not. 100% of life is managing expectations, friends, so stay cool and we’ll see you on the other side.