AP Photo/John Locher
Published Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 4 p.m.
Updated Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 9:47 p.m.
To say the Golden Knights blew the Sharks out of the water in game one of their second-round playoff series, would be downplaying the performance.
Vegas made a statement with a 7-0 win over San Jose Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas wasted no time, scoring three goals in the first six minutes of play, and kept relentless pressure on the Sharks throughout.
Cody Eakin scored his second goal of the playoffs to open the scoring, tipping a shot by Brayden McNabb past San Jose goaltender Martin Jones in the first period.
Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault scored less than a minute apart to extend the lead to 3-0 early, and Alex Tuch netted his second goal of the playoffs late in the first period to make it 4-0 after 20 minutes of hockey.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 33 shots by San Jose to earn his third shutout of the playoffs, which matches the most he’s ever had in a single postseason. Fleury has now gone 122 minutes and four seconds without allowing a goal dating back to game three against the Los Angeles Kings.
Shea Theodore scored his second career playoff goal to give Vegas a 5-0 lead in the second period, and third-period goals by Colin Miller and James Neal poured salt into San Jose’s wound.
After allowing only four goals in the entire first round, Martin was pulled from the net after allowing five goals on only 13 shots early in the second period.
To make matters worse for San Jose, star forward Evander Kane will likely have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety after cross checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the face after the whistle in the third period. Leaving Bellemare’s face bloodied, Kane was ejected from the game and could face a suspension for game two on Saturday.
Golden Knights lead 5-0 after two periods
The Golden Knights continued their dominance over the Sharks in the second period, adding to their already sizeable lead.
Vegas leads San Jose 5-0 entering the third period of game one in the Western Conference semifinal series.
Shea Theodore scored the fifth goal of the game for the Golden Knights. He was the recipient of great passes by Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, eventually finding Theodore in front of the net, where he tipped the puck past Sharks’ goalie Martin Jones.
Jones was pulled from the game after surrendering five goals on only 13 shots, replaced by backup Aaron Dell.
Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped all 25 of San Jose’s shots through two periods.
Golden Knights lead 4-0 after one period
So much for a rusty start.
The Golden Knights scored four goals in the first 12 minutes of play Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena, racing out to a commanding lead over the Sharks.
Cody Eakin opened the scoring when he tipped Brayden McNabb’s shot from the point past San Jose goalie Martin Jones 4:31 into the contest. It was Eakin’s second goal of the playoffs for Vegas.
Erik Haula fired a wrist shot past Jones to make it 2-0 Golden Knights at the 4:57 mark, then Jonathan Marchessault scored his first career playoff goal less than a minute later to put Vegas up 3-0.
Alex Tuch scored his second playoff goal of his career at the 11:43 mark of the period, dancing through multiple Sharks’ defenders before beating Jones with a quick snap shot.
The sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Arena rarely took their seats in the first period, screaming and waving their battle towels throughout the 20 minutes of hockey.
Marc-Andre Fleury continued his stellar play from the first round, stopping all 17 of the Sharks' shots on goal in the first period. Fleury made several spectacular saves near the end of the period when the Sharks had an extended 5-on-3 power play chance.
It’s been nine days since the Golden Knights swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs, and tonight they’ll finally get back on the ice as they host the San Jose Sharks for the first game of the second round.
“It’s been forever,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “(The players are) excited. Hopefully we come out and have a real good start to the hockey game.”
The long layoff allowed Vegas to get healthy, with every player on the roster now available to play — including Luca Sbisa who missed the first round of the playoffs with an upper-body injury.
“It’s been awhile,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “It’s exciting that it’s finally game day again. It seems like it’s been a long time, but we’re ready for it. We got the rest in, we got some workouts over the past couple days and we’re definitely ready.”
The home crowd at T-Mobile Arena has been electrifying all season and that won’t change tonight.
“Every team that plays in their home building for the first game of a series, it’s huge for them,” Gallant said. “Hopefully they’ll be real loud again tonight, and I’m sure they will be. Hopefully our players respond to it and get us off on the right foot.”
Most important for the Golden Knights will be containing star defenseman Brent Burns. The 6-foot-5 all-star led the Sharks with 67 points during the regular season and is dangerous when shooting from a distance.
“He just gets his shots through,” Theodore said. “That’s a big part of his game. A lot of times you think he’s going to stickhandle or hold it, and the puck is already on the way to the net. That’s something that he’s good at and it’s something the forwards are going to have to do a good job of getting in the lane or getting a stick on him quick.”
The forwards will be tasked with staying close to Burns along the blue line.
“Sometimes you even think you’re in the shooting lane and he drags the puck and still gets it through you,” said Ryan Carpenter, who spent three seasons with the Sharks organization before they waived him earlier in the season and he was claimed by the Golden Knights. “(Burns) is a world-class, top-notch player and there’s a reason why he was the best defenseman in the league last year, so we definitely have to respect him.”
Vegas looked sharp in morning skate today at City National Arena, and the entire locker room is ready to start the second round.
“I’m excited,” Carpenter said. “In December, if you would’ve told me I’d be playing right now, I would have taken it. I just love being here.”
Prediction: Golden Knights 4, Sharks 3
Playoffs record for predictions: 3-1
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 7 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: NBC SportsNet (DirecTV 220, Cox 1038, Dish Network 159)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-150, Total 5 minus-125 to the over
Golden Knights playoff record (4-0) (2-0 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Playoffs goal leader: Seven tied (1)
Playoffs assist leader: Reilly Smith (3)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (4-0, 0.65 goals against average)
San Jose Sharks playoff record(4-0) (0-2 away)
Coach: Peter DeBoer
Playoffs goal leader: Three tied (3)
Playoffs assist leader: Joe Pavelski (4)
Expected goalie: Martin Jones (4-0, 1.00 goals against average)
Golden Knights expected game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban