You are welcome to read below, but in all honesty any Sharks’ fan is going to pretty aggravated.
Here’s the bottom line, the Sharks came out flat to start the game and flat to start every period. The Golden Knights scored 16 seconds into the first, 21 seconds into the second, and 36 seconds into the third. San Jose never really recovered. They lost 6-3.
There was a glimmer of hope at about the 5 minute mark of the third period, the most energy that we saw all game, but it really didn’t get us anywhere and Vegas snuffed that out with Mark Stone’s third goal of the game.
If you’re talking at the water cooler tomorrow, the other thing you’ll want to know about is the missed calls. There’s playoff non-calls and there’s straight up bad reffing. The refs missed a pair of high sticks committed by Vegas and that happens. The real frustration should come from the play of Ryan Reaves and what the refs are letting him get away with.
He held Timo Meier down after a play in the third period and then when Meier got up, Reaves had him in a headlock. The ref appeared to say, stop it and Reaves continued. The ref wrestled with Reaves to get him to let go of Meier’s head. When my two-year-old does that, I put her in timeout. Holding? Roughing? Unsportsmanlike conduct? Nothing. Reaves doesn’t learn a lesson unless you put him in timeout.
That’s why later in the game he felt free to crosscheck Evander Kane not once, but twice and then slash him until he was able to instigate a fight. Reaves isn’t getting punished for his play. Crosschecking? Instigator?
I get it. Reaves is a sandpaper player. Cool. But the refs are letting him cross the line and that’s not cool.
Hello friends and welcome to the live blog portion of tonight’s show. We’re talking playoff hockey, which means I’ll do my best to be on my best live blogging game tonight.
I have a little extra time before puck drop, so let me take a moment to applaud the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets, who both locked up 3-0 series leads today. It’s amazing to think that both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning could be out after the first round of the playoffs. Wow.
Looks like Vegas is icing the same team that started out Game 2. As expected, the Sharks have slotted Tim Heed in to the sixth defenseman spot, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is out.
19:44 - Mark Stone just scored. Over the shoulder of Martin Jones. Crap. Bret Hedican says the defense was positioned wrong, but you still got to hope that Jones stops that.
17:28 - What looked like the Sharks first shot on goal easily turned away by Marc-Andre Fleury.
15:41 - And now we have iced the puck.
13:37 - Tomas Hertl with a shot on goal and some sustained pressure. A good scoring chance, but Fleury stopped it.
11:44 - Jones with a save. Sounds like Justin Braun may be injured. Hedican calling it a headshot from Brayden McNabb. The replay confirms that, a shoulder to the chin.
10:25 - Evander Kane headed to the box for delay of game. He tossed the puck out of the defensive zone.
9:53 - Jones made the initial save, but the puck was loose behind him. Luckily Jones fell on top of it before one of the Knights could tap it in. A little pushing and shoving after the whistle. Some of the Sharks not pleased with the stick work on Jones.
8:50 - Joakim Ryan with a good stop on the pass during a Vegas two-on-one. Evander Kane’s penalty is now over.
7:49 - Looks like someone else is headed to the box. A high-stick by the Sharks. Wow. Kane again. It drew blood. 6 penalty minutes in the first 12 minutes of the game.
7:44 - Braun fails to block the shot. Jones doesn’t see a thing. Max Pacioretty scores. 2-0 Vegas. Oh yeah, and Kane still has to serve the second two minutes of that double minor for high-sticking.
4:50 - Fleury with a save on Heed. Sharks have killed the second penalty.
4:34 - A glimmer of light. Kevin Labanc scores! Joe Thornton picks up the puck behind the net, tosses it to Labanc who is on the goal line. Labanc takes a coule of taps at it and one of them beats Fleury. 2-1 Vegas.
Now Vegas is challenging, calling goaltender interference.
Nice of Randy Hahn to point out it’s a new officiating crew tonight.
Good goal. Like I said, 2-1 Sharks.
3:27 - Kane tried to tuck the puck behind Fleury from behind the net, but Fleury made the save.
1:33 - Sharks have life after the penalty kill and goal by Labanc. They’ve strung together a few good shifts.
19:03 - Fleury with his best save so far on Joe Pavelski. Pavs almost tied it.
20:00 - 2-1 Vegas after period one.
The Good: The Sharks are 58.8 percent on faceoffs in the first period.
The Bad: The Sharks are down 2-1 and Jones has a .900 save percentage. He has faced 20 shots in the first period!
The Ugly: So Vegas scored 16 seconds into the game.
19:39 - It took a little longer, 21 seconds this time, but Vegas has scored again. That’s Paul Stastny with the goal.
17:42 - Trouble in our zone again, so we ice the puck. Sharks looking out of sorts. Vegas is playing hard and San Jose can’t match their intensity.
17:35 - Michael Haley took a heavy shot and went down. He’s being helped off the ice. Looks like something could be broken. He can’t even get down the hall.
16:02 - Someone needs to spark something for the Sharks. Despite all his offensive faults, Haley would be the guy to do it with a big hit, but he’s in the locker room and I doubt he’s coming back.
15:30 - Rand Hahn, “The Sharks have done a great job of containing that Marchessault line.” Jonathan Marchessault, “Oh yeah.” He just had a great scoring chance.
13:48 - Sharks sort of had a scoring chance but Joakim Ryan couldn’t hold the puck in at the blueline and then shot it in on Fleury, so sort of not too.
13:26 - Another Sharks penalty. Labanc called for tripping. Jumbo is playing angry, he just “bumped” Marchessault and knocked him over after the whistle.
11:26 - Penalty to Labanc is over. Most of that power play was less about penalty killing by the Sharks and more about Vegas missing its opportunities.
9:58 - Sharks with their first power play of the night! Alex Tuch going to the box. Let’s see if they worked on special teams over the last few days. Looks like Tuch retaliated after he was hit by Logan Couture.
8:22 - Icing on the power play. Just the latest in a series of issues on the man advantage. The Sharks spent a good deal of time in their own zone. It’s not ideal when you’re trying to score.
7:50 - The power play is done. It’s still 3-1 in favor of Vegas.
5:35 - Oh wait, we’re going back to the box. Looks like interference in the offensive zone. Always the kind of quality penalties you want to be taking when you’re down by two goals.
4:14 - Kane had a breakaway on the penalty kill and Fleury poke checked the puck away before Kane could even get a shot on.
3:56 - Stastny with the power play goal. Rag on Jones all you want, but that’s a tough one. Mark Stone had a perfect cross ice pass that Stastny just redirected in. 4-1 Vegas.
3:06 - Thornton headed to the box of hitting Tomas Nosek in the head. It was a direct hit to the head and there’s really no missing that call. Nothing else was even touched.
2:06 - If you can’t beat ’em, then BEAT ’EM. The Sharks apparently deciding the flex their muscles since they’re looking so bad tonight. Brenden Dillon and Pacioretty both handed two-minute minors after a scrum involving almost every player including Jones.
0:00 - The Sharks escape the period and are only down by three goals.
The Good: It’s only a three goal deficit?
The Bad: Haley’s definitely done for the game and probably the series. Say what you like about his offensive contribution, but the guy plays with heart and he put his entire heart...er, ankle on the line when he blocked that shot. If only the rest of the team will play with the same heart tonight.
The Ugly: That entire period. The Sharks have no jump. They let a goal in 21 seconds into the period. They’re falling apart.
20:00 - Line shuffle on.
19:24 - It worked! It took Vegas 36 seconds to score this time! Stone had plenty of time to score when no one touched him.
16:43 - Icing by the Sharks. Nothing working right now. Direct quote from Randy Hahn, “Sharks need to find their collective backbone.”
16:11 - Vegas’ William Karlsson headed to the box for slashing.
15:42 - Brent Burns and Nosek both headed to the box for roughing. 5-on-4 play. Burns took a late shot, though he might have let up at the last minute. Nosek didn’t like it and went right at him.
15:03 - Couture passes the puck across the crease and McNabb gets a stick on it and tips it into the net. 5-2 Vegas.
14:09 - Control yourself fans. Gustav Nyquist skates into the Vegas zone and shoots it. The rebound gets to Timo Meier who scores. 5-3 Vegas.
13:38 - Shot on net was stopped by Fleury, but Fleury peeked behind him.
12:54 - Jones with a big save. Vegas is pushing back.
12:45 - Someone please ask Randy to stop saying things. Just all things. It never ends well for us.
10:49 - Vegas called for holding. Will Carrier headed to the box. Another power play for San Jose.
9:35 - Offsides on the zone entry. Vegas locking it down on the penalty kill. On another note, the officials have missed at least two high sticks by Vegas on the Sharks tonight.
8:38 - Power play is over. No goal.
6:03 - There’s the hope...gone. Stone gets his hat trick. 6-3 Vegas. Of all the goals, Jones just got out maneuvered there. He can’t let that happen.
Kane talking to Ryan Reaves. Got to think too little too late. I have to wonder where this emotion was say two hours ago.
2:01 - Kane and Reaves drop the gloves. Reaves is in Kane’s head but at least this happened at a mean nothing point of the game. Let’s hope Kane got it out of his system.
Bret Hedican is calling out Vegas Head Coach Gerard Gallant for putting a rested Reaves out there against Kane. Hedican’s also mad at the officials for letting Reaves crosscheck Kane a couple of times and then slash him before they dropped the gloves.
I change my assessment, good on Kane for keeping his head for that long.
0:00 - Game’s over. Vegas wins 6-3.
After ceding home-ice advantage with a loss in Game 2, the San Jose Sharks (46-27-9) will try to regain their lead in the series against the Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7) and weather what has become a storm of injuries. The importance of tonight’s game is likely not lost on the Sharks, as the winner of Game 3 in series that are tied at one has won the round on 67.9 percent of occasions.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Erik, that is a stupid and borderline tautological thing to say, since a team with a 50 percent chance of winning every game would win 63.6% of series in that situation by pure chance, and a variation of four percentage points is pretty conservative considering the better team wins any given game more often than not, including Game 3,” and you’re right, it’s a stupid stat, but there is another reason that tonight’s game holds extra importance for this series: Nikita Gusev.
We mentioned Gusev’s probable entrance into this series on our last gamethread, but the probability has officially become reality, as the KHL’s leading scorer officially signed a one-year entry-level contract this morning. Since the Russian stud is scheduled to practice with the team on Monday, it’s not unreasonable to think he may draw into the lineup for Game 4. With the Sharks already losing players to injuries high and low, the Knights getting back-up is a worrying proposition.
It is unfortunate that the Sharks are faced with this challenge in Las Vegas, but there may be reason to believe the oft-referenced “Vegas flu” is less significant than it has been in the past. In last year’s playoffs, the Knights .700 win percentage at home led all teams, but in the regular season their 24 home wins tied for eighth. If they can win in San Jose (whose 25 wins tied for fourth), the Sharks can win in Vegas. Indeed the Sharks won one of their two games in Vegas this year, and if they can do that, they’ll take home-ice advantage right back.
That win back in January will be something we can all look to to attempt to soothe our jangling nerves regarding the performance of goaltender Martin Jones. While it seems that Jones’ days of haunting our dreams have come to a comfortable middle, his performance in Sin City on January 10 may provide hope. In that 3-2 win, Jones made 36 saves, many on high quality chances.
That one game may not be enough to outweigh his performance on Friday, allowing three goals on seven shots and being pulled just 6:39 into the first period, or his overall performance against the Knights, in which he’s been pulled five times in 15 total games, or even his performance at T-Mobile Arena, at which he’s been pulled three times in six games, but it’s something.
In addition to goaltending, special teams was a topic of conversation following Game 2. The Sharks are going to need to convert on more of their power play opportunities, and the Knights are going to need to give San Jose fewer of them. In two games, the Sharks have been gifted 13 power plays, totaling 21:50 total man advantage time. In that span, the Sharks have scored twice and allowed two shorthanded goals. Eight of those power plays and both shorties were in Game 2, where the Knights scored on one of their three opportunities. It’s safe to assume the Knights will be more careful about their infractions tonight, and the Sharks will have to be proportionally more efficient with their power play time.
After injuries to Joe Pavelski, Timo Meier, and Logan Couture just this series, it looks like Marc-Edouard Vlasic will sit tonight in favor of Tim Heed. Any loss is important when teams are this well-matched, but Vlasic’s absence may not be as damaging as it might have been in years past. Vlasic has averaged 15:04 on ice in these last two games, a stark drop from last year’s 25:20 over ten playoff games, and the previous postseason’s mark of 23:16.
A lot of that drop probably has to do with the addition of Erik Karlsson, and the prominence of him and Brent Burns on the team’s ice-time allocations, but if those two are playing close to 30 minutes per game anyway (Burns is averaging 28:30 and Karlsson 27:46 through two games), Peter DeBoer can likely employ a Stevens-Niedermayer strategy until Vlasic is ready to return later in the series.
A win in this series may pave the winners’ way straight to the Cup, since the boogeyman Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be napping, and a win tonight may pave the way straight to the series.
Expected scratches: Joonas Donskoi, Lukas Radil
Injured reserve: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (undisclosed), Radim Simek (knee)
Expect Tim Heed and Justin Braun to skate fewer than ten minutes at 5-on-5, but the continued scratching of Donskoi and Radil is still a head-scratcher. One would think that one could use all the offense one could get in a series this close, but one would be apparently mistaken.
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek — Cody Eakin — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt — Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill — Colin Miller
Expected scratches: Nikita Gusev, Ryan Carpenter, Nick Holden, Jimmy Schuldt, Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov
Injured reserve: Erik Haula (lower body)
The Knights aren’t changing what isn’t broke and, aside from the addition of Gusev on the scratch list, this lineup is identical to Friday’s. The Sharks have done an excellent job of shutting down Vegas’ top trio and, while that has led to opportunities for their star-studded second line, head coach Gerard Gallant will be trying to get Marchessault and company away from Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson with last change.
Where to watch
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern at T-Mobile Arena in shiny Las Vegas. You’ll find the television broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area in San Jose, NBC Sports nationally, SportsNet and SportsNet 360 in Canada, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain in Vegas, and TVA Sports en français. If you prefer to use your powers of mental visualization, the radio call will be on 98.5 KFOX in San Jose and through the Sharks app.
We’ll be updating play by play as soon as the puck drops, so come hang out!