Quick Bites: Sharks dig early hole, get out, fall back in
We knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
The San Jose Sharks lost Game 2 of their opening round series to the Vegas Golden Knights 5-3. It was a torturous game to watch as a fan, but this is exactly the type of game that you wish you could watch as a neutral observer. It featured plenty of goals and a high level of feistiness from both teams.
Let’s start with the glaringly obvious: Martin Jones was bad. He allowed three goals on the first seven shot he saw and was pulled for Aaron Dell less than seven minutes into the game. The Sharks were on the back foot early because they couldn’t get a save from their starting netminder.
However, the game was not over at that point. The Sharks’ offense came roaring into life. Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton each scored in a 2:09 span to tie the game before the first intermission.
The @SanJoseSharks are the first team in #StanleyCup Playoffs history to tie a game in the first period after falling behind 3-0. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/ZW4YWVYGRk— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 13, 2019
The turning point of the game was early in the second period. Brent Burns ripped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury, to apparently put the Sharks up 4-3. However ... the refs called Couture for goaltender interference, despite the facts that 1) Couture didn’t initiate the contact with Fleury and B) Fleury was outside of the crease at the time.
Refs disallow goal, call interference on Couture, and Vegas scores to take the lead. Excuse me @nhl, we'd like to talk to your manager please... pic.twitter.com/hAn6vvUh7f— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) April 13, 2019
The goal was disallowed, and Couture was sent to the box for two minutes. Mark Stone scored on the ensuing powerplay to put Vegas up 4-3. It was a two goal swing and a very bitter pill for the Sharks.
But again: the game was not over at that point.
Down by only one goal, the Sharks had plenty of time and a number of chances to draw back even. They finished this game with eight power plays in total, including a 5-on-3 for a full minute. But the Sharks were only one-for-eight on the man-advantage. And to make matters worse, Vegas scored two shorthanded goals. That is simply not good enough from the special teams. If this team is going to make a long playoff run, they need to make opposing teams pay when they go to the box.
For as frustrating as this game was to watch, there are some positives to take away for Sharks fans.
First: the Sharks outshot and out-Corsi’ed Vegas at 5-on-5 tonight. In all situations, the Sharks were even more dominant. Some of that can be chalked up to score effects, but the fact is, the Sharks were very much in this game.
The second positive is that this game represents a worst case scenario for the Sharks: Vegas won because the Sharks spotted them three early goals and went one-for-eight on the power play. Is it possible that the Sharks goaltending and special teams are this bad for the rest of the series? Yeah, I guess so. But is that likely? I wouldn’t bet on it.
We knew coming in that this was going to be a close, hard-fought series.
We knew that the Sharks weren’t going to sweep this one.
The sky isn’t falling. The Sharks are still very much in this series
There were two injuries that are worth keeping an eye on.
Logan Couture blocked a shot with his tender bits and missed most of the second period. Thankfully he was back out for the third. Hopefully little Logan is fine.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a shot high, possibly to his neck, early in the second period. He did not return to the game, and Pete DeBoer did not have an update on his status after the game. Losing Vlasic would be a big blow to the Sharks. Tim Heed would likely suit up, should Vlasic not be available.