The Pioneer

Sharks try to slay Vegas Knights

Ryan Duarte,
Contributor

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The San Jose Sharks have been in this position before. Most of the team’s veterans have had playoff experience in successful and perilous situations. However, this is a new beast entirely in Las Vegas. Yesterday was an important match with Las Vegas leading into game five with the Golden Knights ahead in the series 2-1.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the newest team added to the other 30 teams already established in the National Hockey Association. They have been one of the most successful expansion teams in any sport since the Jacksonville Jaguars started their team in 1996.

The Golden Knights may be the new kid on the block, but they are no slouch by any means. They secured the number one seed in the playoffs among all Western Conference teams and they now have the highest number of playoff wins in a row at the start of a franchise, according to NHL.com. This team has numerous fast skaters such as winger Alex Tuch and centerman William Karlsson who constantly attack the boards.

On top of this, Joe Thornton has still not been medically cleared to play with his knee injury, Evander Kane was suspended for game two because he illegally cross-checked a Golden Knights player and Joonas Donskoi missed game three with an upper body injury. And yet somehow the Sharks stole game two from Las Vegas.

This San Jose team is not the same team in previous years. The decision to add forward Evander Kane and forward Eric Fehr at the trade deadline proved to boost the offense in a much needed way, especially when Thornton went down.

Prior to Peter DeBoer taking on the Sharks head coaching job, most of the time San Jose would send the puck to boards in the corner of the ice rink, allowing opposing teams to fight for the puck and build from there. This would be the Sharks’ primary way to enter the attacking zone, but now that DeBoer is at the helm, he has developed a great offensive system with a lot more passing than in years past.

This year’s team looks a lot faster, stronger and smarter. They even tallied 100 points or more during the season, which is only the sixth time this has happened in franchise history and the first time since 2010, according to NHL.com.

However, Las Vegas is a tough team. They ranked eleventh in the NHL in power play goal percentage during the regular season but San Jose ranks second in percentage of power plays killed, according to NHL.com.

The Golden Knights took advantage of their sweep of the Los Angeles Kings during game one in the second round. They looked well rested and ready, while the Sharks did not. The Golden Knights took control of the boards and hit the Sharks right in the mouth, blowing them out by a score of 7-0.

The Sharks’ experience worked in their favor in game two. They knew one game would not be the deciding factor in a seven game series, and every game would count in its own way. The Sharks, down 2-0 in the second period, erupted for three goals in the period.

However, the Golden Knights would get one back with seven minutes left in regulation. No goals were scored for about 30 minutes of game time. This carried on until the Knights were called for a penalty eight minutes into double overtime. Forward Chris Tierney sent a beautiful pass on the weak side of the goal, and Logan Couture drilled the game-winning shot to even the series at one game apiece.

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