Published Sunday, April 14, 2019 | 3:25 p.m.
Updated Sunday, April 14, 2019 | 9:45 p.m.
Mark Stone had never recorded a playoff hat trick, and the Golden Knights had never had a player score three goals in a postseason game. Both were checked off Friday night.
Stone scored 16 seconds into the game then twice in the second to help Vegas run away from the San Jose Sharks and claimed a 6-3 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference first round at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights took a 2-1 lead in the series.
Stone also had two assists for a five-point night. He entered the game having never recorded even a three-point game in the playoffs. Paul Stastny assisted on both of Stone's goals in the third period, giving him a five-point night for the first time in his playoff career.
Vegas entered the period with a 4-1 lead, but quickly added to it on Stone's second of the night. Vegas scored 16 seconds into the first period, 21 seconds into the second and 36 seconds into the third.
After Stone's first goal, San Jose found its sea legs. First Logan Couture got credit for a power-play goal when his centering pass went off Brayden McNabb's stick and into the net. Fifty-four seconds later Timo Meier buried a rebound from a Gustav Nyquist shot and just like that the Sharks trimmed the Vegas lead to 5-3 with 14:09 to play.
Then Stone ended any hope of a comeback, undressing Martin Jones in the goal crease and sending the hats at T-Mobile Arena flying.
Stastny scores twice in second
Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty each scored in the first period so linemate Paul Stastny figured he would get in on the fun in the second.
Stastny scored twice in the period, and the Golden Knights took a 4-1 lead over the Sharks into the final 20 minutes.
The first shot of the period was Pacioretty's, and the rebound deflected off Martin Jones and toward the Vegas bench. Stastny chased it down, wheeled and fired to score the Golden Knights' third goal, just 21 seconds into the frame.
Mark Stone picked up an assist, giving each member of the line a goal and an assist on the evening.
Things started getting chippy midway through the period after Alex Tuch took exception to a Logan Couture hit near the benches. Tuch's helmet came off, and he took a retaliatory interference call by taking out his frustrations in the form of a body check on Couture away from the play.
Tuch sat for two minutes, but Vegas killed off its first penalty of the game.
The Sharks looked to climb back in it on an Evander Kane short-handed breakaway, but Marc-Andre Fleury dove out of the net with a flying poke check to prevent even a shot attempt from Kane.
Moments later on the other end, the Golden Knights put the icing on the cake. Stone entered the zone on the power play, waited for Stastny to get in position and slid a perfect pass across the slot to Stastny, who tapped it in for his second of the night at 16:04 of the second.
The Golden Knights held a 30-19 edge in shots on goal.
Golden Knights grab first-period lead
The Golden Knights have made it a habit of scoring quickly against the Sharks. Turns out that applies to power plays as well.
After Mark Stone scored 16 seconds into the game, Max Pacioretty scored five seconds into Vegas' second power-play opportunity of the game, and the Golden Knights carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Pacioretty took the draw that Paul Stastny won, lined up behind him and fired through his screen and into the net at 12:16 of the first period to make it 2-0.
Evander Kane had a rough period for the Sharks, first firing a puck over the glass for the first penalty and right after he got out, his stick went high on William Carrier. It drew blood to result in a double-minor, and Pacioretty struck right away.
Like in Game 2 where Vegas led 3-0 only to see the Sharks tie it by the end of the period, the Golden Knights could not escape the first period unscathed. Joe Thornton posted up behind the net and fed Kevin Labanc in front. Labanc's shot trickled by Marc-Andre Fleury and held up to a Vegas challenge to make it 2-1 at 15:26.
The goal seemed to wake the Sharks up, as they applied more pressure in the final few minutes of the period as they had all game to that point.
The Golden Knights led in shots on goal, 20-12.
Stone scores 16 seconds in
The pregame show had T-Mobile Arena buzzing, ready to explode and it took the Golden Knights just 16 seconds to oblige.
Mark Stone walked in on San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones and back-handed the first shot of the game by him to give Vegas an early 1-0 lead in Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs on Sunday.
The goal was the fastest to open a playoff game in team history, and Stone's fourth of the playoffs.
It was the ninth time in 17 all-time meeting the Golden Knights took a lead on the Sharks in the first five minutes of the game.
A series like this, with two high-intensity games between division rivals, it's natural for there to be some animosity and flowing emotions.
But as the series heads south to T-Mobile Arena at 7 p.m. for Game 3, the Golden Knights have a message for the San Jose Sharks.
Don't touch Marc-Andre Fleury.
"Anyone that's on the ice, something happens to Flower, (expletive) is going to go down," forward Jonathan Marchessault. "It's not only me. It's going to be everybody in the locker room and that's what built our team chemistry."
It's been a chippy series so far, with plenty of post-while extracurriculars and even some scuffles after the final horn. It included a debated penalty call, when Brent Burn scored for the Sharks before the referees ruled Logan Couture interfered with Fleury by making contacting with his head and giving Vegas a power play on which it scored the game-winning goal.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer called the penalty a "travesty." Vegas coach Gerard Gallant called the momentum swing "awesome."
The Golden Knights knew what they were getting into when the playoffs started. Fleury knows it's coming.
"It's always been part of the game to have a lot of guys going to the net," he said. "I don't know if they're trying to hit any more, but they always have guys there."
The Golden Knights need Fleury at his best to advance deep into the playoffs. Fleury was terrific in Game 2 after struggling in the series opener. That's in part due to the defense in front of him, and his teammates said it's on them to make sure Fleury has a clean crease to play in.
"It's always something we're trying to do, clear bodies out of there so he can see the puck," defenseman Jon Merrill said. "Teams are always trying to get to him and get to the front of the net. Everybody knows he's the best goalie in the league, so he's going to make a save if he can see it."
Despite the penalty, Couture has not been the flashpoint in the series. That belongs to the rivalry between Vegas forward Ryan Reaves and Sharks counterpart Evander Kane. Both were assessed misconduct penalties at the end of Game 1 when they got tangled up together.
Reaves said the heated nature of the series is a combination of it being a playoff series and it being against a rival. He also said he feels like his role as enforcer keeps San Jose from playing more physical when he is off the ice, comments that figure to stoke more flames in Game 3 tonight.
"We're fighting hard and hatred is just going to keep going," Reaves said. "Kane gets 10 feet tall when I'm not on the ice. When I'm out there, he doesn't really seem to do much. That's how he's been every time I've played him so I don't expect it to stop."
Western Conference first round
Series: Tied 1-1
TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-160, Sharks plus-140; over/under: 6.5 (minus-100, minus-120)
Golden Knights (1-1) (0-0 home), Pacific Division No. 3 seed
Coach: Gerard Gallant (second season)
Points leader: Max Pacioretty (4)
Goals leader: Mark Stone (3)
Assists leader: Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny (3)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (3.53 gaa, .899 save percentage)
Sharks (1-0) (1-0 home), Pacific Division No. 2 seed
Coach: Peter DeBoer (fourth season)
Points leader: Erik Karlsson (4)
Goals leaders: Tomas Hertl (2)
Assists leader: Erik Karlsson (4)
Expected goalie: Martin Jones (4.55 gaa, .848 save percentage)
Golden Knights expected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Mark Stone, Tomas Nosek, Cody Eakin, Alex Tuch, William Carrier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban