The San Jose Sharks lost 6-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their opening round matchup. This was a difficult game to watch for the fans and, I’m not going to lie, it is a difficult game to write about.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the Sharks, as Mark Stone flipped a lazy backhander behind Martin Jones just sixteen seconds into the first period.
Is it bad that Stone easily skated past Logan Couture? Yup. But that is a save that Jones has to make. And so, not even a minute into this game, we all knew what was in store for the Sharks last night.
Stop me if you have heard this before, but the two biggest factors in the Sharks' loss were goaltending and special teams. Combine that with an epic performance by the Knights’ top players, and it was a rough night for Team Teal.
I really don’t want to belabor the point about Jones being not good. We’ve covered this before, but giving up six goals in a playoff game is bad. Yes, you can break down each goal and point to a defensive lapse, if that’s what you’re into. But the bottom line is this: the Sharks are giving up too many goals. At some point, Jones needs to make a save. Other goaltenders bail out their teams all the time. Not being able to do so is the difference between being a contender on paper and a contender at the end of Game 3 of the first round.
The Sharks took six of the first eight penalties that were called in this game. And yeah, I guess that is fair in the grand scheme of things. Maybe. But the idea that Vegas did not commit an infraction until halfway through the game is, uh, wrong? Is that the right word? I’m told that yes, “wrong,” is the correct word.
At any rate, the Sharks spent too much time shorthanded and the Knights made them pay. The Knights scored two of their first four goals on the powerplay, and the finished the night two-for-six with the man-advantage. More impressively, they managed to not give up any shorthanded goals. The balance of penalties was skewed tonight, but it’s close to even over the balance of the series. It would be cool if the Sharks could have done the same in Game 2.
Vegas got a big game from their top two forward lines. The combo of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith dominated possession at even strength, controlling 73.82 percent of the score- and venue-adjusted (SVA) shot attempts at 5-on-5. That is bad news for the Sharks. What’s worse is that wasn’t even the Knight’s best line. Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty may not have put up the dominant possession numbers — only 50.86 percent of the even strength SVA shot attempts — but they pretty much scored whenever they felt like doing so. Stone netted a hat trick and the line accounted for all six of the goals that Vegas scored.
It will be tough for the Sharks if Vegas can send two dominant lines over the boards. Going into this series, we all thought that the Sharks' skaters would carry the day, but goaltending would likely be the difference. Half right. If the Sharks can’t rein in the Knights' top-six, it will be a tough go for San Jose.
Micheal Haley left the game after blocking a shot with his foot/ankle. He was in considerable pain, as he was helped off the ice and did not return to the game. If he is unable to play, Joonas Donskoi would likely be the one to take his place.
In the second period, Joe Thornton was penalized for a high hit on Tomas Nosek. He may have a conversation with the Department of Player Safety about this one.
After the game Thornton had this to say:
Full Thornton quote on hitting Nosek: "I honestly thought I barely touched him. He came right back. It was just one of those plays, it is what it is. I think my son hits me like that six times a day. Just a weird position he put himself in, that's all."#SJSharks #VegasBorn— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 15, 2019
Thornton might miss a game or two, if the DoPS hold to precedent.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not play in tonight’s game. Tim Heed took his place on the blueline.
Final thought: it’s only 2-1. Sharks really, really need to win Game 4.