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Quick Bites: Sharks pushed to the brink

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In the words of Stephen A. Smith, “This is bad. This is very, very bad.”

Apr 16, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell (30) skates back to his net during a stoppage in play in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights in game four of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I am sorry to say that the recap of Game 4 of the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights’ first round matchup that you are about to read is extremely unpleasant — but the 5-0 takedown of the Sharks last night was equally as unpleasant.

Right off the puck drop of the opening frame, the Sharks surprisingly didn’t allow a goal within the first minute of the game. Unfortunately, they did allow one within the first two minutes. The line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny once again made the Sharks pay early. Stone made a nice drop pass to Pacioretty, who beat Martin Jones glove-side to open scoring.

It’s been a refrain for much of this season, but that was a shot that Jones just needed to stop. It didn’t help that the Sharks were making the same old mistakes that they were in Game 3, but if Jones had stopped that, then we might be having a different discussion.

The early goal was a massive blow, but it wasn’t as though the Sharks weren’t getting their chances. In all situations in the first period, the Sharks had nine high-danger scoring chances, compared to Vegas’s two. However, it wasn’t hard to tell at all that the Sharks were rattled. Both Evander Kane and Justin Braun took minor penalties for slashing and tripping, respectively, nearly four minutes apart from each other.

With under a minute to go in the first period, Shea Theodore took the puck up through the neutral zone and dangled around both Brent Burns and Brenden Dillon before back-handing it home past Jones’ left pad for the 2-0 lead.

Brent Burns didn’t exactly put on a defensive clinic on Theodore’s move to the net, but this was the second high-danger chance from Vegas that resulted in a goal, making it two-for-two on Martin Jones.

As the Sharks walked down the hallway back to their dressing room at the end of the first period, it was at that point that Peter DeBoer knew that Martin Jones wasn’t going to be the guy leading the team out for the second period. Aaron Dell came in to relieve Jones, marking his second relief appearance of the series. While the Sharks did look a bit better for the first few minutes under Dell, it all fell down again quickly.

The Sharks, once again, couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and Brenden Dillon was sent off for a high-sticking penalty. And what did Vegas make the Sharks do?

They made them pay.

Max Pacioretty scored his second goal of the night on a very clean zone entry by the Golden Knights’ first power play unit. After a feed from Mark Stone was sent high, Pacioretty was able to collect his own rebound and shoot it into a near-empty net to pad the lead for the Golden Knights.

The Sharks were able to limit the damage that period by staying ahead in shots. The only problem with that was the fact that none of those shots were able to get behind Marc-Andre Fleury.

Midway through the final frame, Alex Tuch pounced on a misplayed puck by Max Pacioretty and weaved past Erik Karlsson before putting it right past Aaron Dell’s five-hole for the Knights’ fourth goal of the game. It was obvious that Erik Karlsson was not 100 percent healthy out on the ice last night.

Pete Blackburn provided some alternate angles of Tuch’s goal, with more of the focus on Karlsson.

It was after this goal that things officially went off the rails.

Evander Kane, in the span of 30 seconds, got himself a cross-checking penalty, a roughing penalty and a game misconduct during a scrum.

I will honestly be surprised if Kane doesn’t get a call from the Department of Player Safety for this. So far this series, it seems like Vegas has gotten into his head and not the other way around.

Jonathan Marchessault put the cherry on top for Vegas off of a great pass from Nate Schmidt, standing right at the doorstep and putting it past Dell for the 5-0 lead, and the third-straight victory for the Golden Knights.

And now, in a year where it looked like the San Jose Sharks were finally going to get over the hump with big additions like Karlsson and Gustav Nyquist, they now find themselves one loss away from elimination in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.