Hockey folks like to talk about making sacrifices, especially in the playoffs.
In Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights, Logan Couture’s teeth were made an offering. The hockey gods must have accepted the reluctant sacrifice, as the Sharks won to force Game 6 in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Tomas Hertl scored the first goal of the game, which the Sharks hadn’t done since Game 1. Logan Couture crashed the net to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead which held until the final minute of the period. Barclay Goodrow tipped Justin Braun’s shot midway through the second period. His first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal would stand as the game-winner. Hertl added a power-play goal after Logan’s teeth were removed from his face.
The Sharks earned a power play late in the second. They did everything but score on it and carried the energy through the rest of the period.
Vegas scored both their goals on the power play, which isn’t super great. The Sharks have now allowed eight goals while short-handed in the series.
Vegas pulled Marc-Andre Fleury with over two minutes left and two goals to make up.
Joe Pavelski scored the final goal of the game to secure the win. And also perhaps in solidarity with Logan’s teeth? He and Couture have lost teeth in both the Sharks’ wins.
Game 5 is on Easter Sunday. We’ll see if playoff Martin Jones will rise to the task again.
18:44: Tomas Hertl’s here to win! The first shot on goal of the game goes over Fleury’s glove. He had three of the Golden Knights draped on him or chasing him while he did it.
13:22: If you’ve been holding your breath to this point ... I don’t blame you, but also that’s not good for you. It’s okay to breathe.
9:00: Timo Meier carries the puck to the net and Logan Couture gallops in behind him to push the puck across the goal line. 2-0, Sharks!
6:00: Brent Burns’ defensive work in the past 30 seconds hasn’t been pretty, but it’s worked well enough. Just ... don’t keep falling on your butt, Brent.
1:48: Evander Kane carries the puck from the defensive zone all the way below the Vegas goal line, lays a check ... and takes a high sticking penalty. Sharks on the penalty kill when we come back.
0:29.8: Reilly Smith scores from behind the goal line because hockey is weird sometimes. Erik Karlsson was trying to cover him and ended up directing the puck into Martin Jones’ legs.
END FIRST: Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1
It didn’t go as well as it could have but certainly better than any of us feared.
There have been a couple pass attempts that didn’t connect and/or got picked off. Most notably, I remember Kevin Labanc’s neutral zone turnover with just under five minutes remaining. That gave me a big scare.
The Knights got one back at the end of the period with a strange bounce while on the power play. The Sharks’ penalty kill has now allowed seven goals in the series.
The Knights are leading in shots on goal, and that’s with the Sharks defense having blocked seven shots so far.
12:51: Well we’re over five minutes into the period and it’s been pretty chaotic. Neither team has really put together any cohesive plays. A lot of loose pucks are happening and the Golden Knights are picking up most of them.
12:44: The Sharks win the faceoff and Logan Couture draws a penalty as he attempts to go around back of the net.
7:38: Justin Braun manages to get the puck to the net all the way from the blueline. Barclay Goodrow is in perfect position to tip it into the top corner.
6:16: Max Pacioretty trips Timo Meier and the Sharks go back to the power play. I didn’t mention it earlier, but their earlier chance wasn’t all that impressive.
4:14: That power play was very very fun to watch, but didn’t succeed. The long zone time was pretty impressive.
END SECOND: Sharks 3, Vegas 1
The Sharks win the period and they’re two-thirds of the way to Game 6.
The Sharks really turned up the intensity during and after the late-period power play. Now they’ve got 15 minutes to catch their breath so they can keep it up in the third period.
If the Sharks score again in the game, it’ll almost definitely come like Couture’s and Goodrow’s, in other words with bodies by the net. Hertl’s goal was pretty — I’m still thinking about how he had three dudes on him and was still like “goal now” — but it’s not likely to happen again tonight.
17:18: NBCS California notes that Tomas Hertl is playing with the fourth-liners. Perhaps the Sharks are looking for another fancy goal from him; it’s definitely not a demotion for Hertl.
11:18: So the Vegas Golden Knights are pushing hard right now according to the NBCS Cali broadcast, and all that makes me think of is birth, which is not hockey.
9:45: The Sharks take their second penalty of the game, this time to Erik Karlsson.
8:24: It’s a 3-2 game now. Jonathan Marchessault’s shot goes through everybody.
5:32: Couture is hurt in the Sharks’ zone. The good news is he’s able to skate himself off to get seen by the medical staff. When we went to commercial, it didn’t look like a penalty would be called. On the return from the break, Jonathan Marchessault is in the box for two minutes — one for each of Couture’s missing teeth.
5:15: Joe Pavelski makes pretty spin play at the side of the goal. Oh, and also Tomas Hertl scores his second goal of the game.
2:43: The Knights decide to put an extra attacker on the ice with an offensive-zone faceoff opportunity.
1:46: Joe Pavelski with the empty-net goal gives the Sharks a 5-2 lead.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 5, Golden Knights 2
At the center of the debate on what exactly has gone wrong so far, Martin Jones will be starting in net for the Sharks again tonight, despite being pulled twice so far in the series. The Sharks have been outscored 11-18 so far in the series, including Tuesday night’s 5-0 shut out loss. Jones’ .838 save percentage in round one is a far cry from the Playoff Martin Jones that we are promised every year.
The other issue is how injured the Sharks have been this series. There’s Joe Pavelski’s face and Erik Karlsson’s groin that is clearly not 100 percent. Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be returning to the line up, but given how players regularly return too soon in playoffs, the actual state of his health is uncertain.
Still, the Sharks have a record of showing up in elimination games, especially Logan Couture. Factor in the return of Joe Thornton and home ice and it’s still possible that the Sharks will head back to Vegas for Game 6.
Expected scratches: Micheal Haley (lower-body injury), Tim Heed, Dylan Gambrell
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Jonathan Marchessault
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek — Cody Eakin — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt — Deryk Engelland
Shea Theodore — Brayden McNabb
Jon Merrill — Colin Miller
Expected scratches: Nikita Gusev, Ryan Carpenter, Brandon Pirri, Nick Holden, Valentin Zykov, Jimmy Schuldt
Where to watch
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern at SAP Center in San Jose and will be broadcast nationally in the US on NBC Sports (which means it will not be available to stream on NHL.tv in the US), SportsNet 360 in Canada, NBCSCA in San Jose and AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain in Vegas. The radio call will be on 98.5 KFOX in San Jose and through the Sharks app.