Preview: Sharks at Golden Knights
Moments after San Jose staved off elimination in Thursday's Game 5 of its Western Conference first-round series, Sharks forward Tomas Hertl guaranteed there will be a decisive seventh game "because we’re a better team than them.” Them refers to the Vegas Golden Knights, who will look to KO visiting San Jose for a second straight year in Sunday night's Game 6.
Hertl, who vowed the Sharks would come back last year after losing Game 5 in Las Vegas, backtracked on his guarantee Friday, one day after his team posted its second 5-2 victory of the series. "I said I believe in this team because I think we showed twice how good we can play,” Hertl said. “But I believe we can come back. For sure, not guarantee, but I can guarantee that everybody will put everything in the game in Vegas and try and come back." The Golden Knights wrapped up three playoff series on the road last year and will be looking for their first close-out victory at T-Mobile Arena, where they outscored San Jose 11-3 in Games 3 and 4. "We're up 3-2, we've played good hockey," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "(The Sharks) played a better game (Thursday). Let's see if they can do it in our building."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, Sportsnet360, TVAS, NBCS California (San Jose), AT&T Sportsnet-Rocky Mountain (Las Vegas)
ABOUT THE SHARKS: Beleaguered Martin Jones, who was yanked in the first period of Games 2 and 4 and torched for six goals in Game 3, came up big Thursday night by turning aside 30 of 32 shots to reinforce coach Peter DeBoer's decision to stick with him. "Totally what we expected. He's a heck of a goalie," captain Joe Pavelski said. "I know everybody wants to write their things, but we've got a lot of belief in this guy." Defenseman Erik Karlsson, a minus-7 over the previous three games, set up the first two goals Thursday to give him seven assists in the series.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Vegas' No. 2 line of Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone had been a wrecking ball in the first four games, combining for 28 points on 12 goals and 16 assists before they were held off the scoresheet Thursday night. The No. 1 unit was productive in Game 5 as Reilly Smith scored his first goal of the series and Jonathan Marchessault added his second tally -- both on the power play -- while William Karlsson collected two assists. Defenseman Colin Miller also had a pair of assists as the Golden Knights improved to 8-for-24 on the power play.
1. Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury registered a shutout in Game 4 but has allowed at least three goals in the four other contests.
2. Hertl has four goals in the series, doubling his total in four regular-season matchups versus the Golden Knights.
3. Pacioretty had a game-high eight shots on goal Thursday but Stone and Stastny each failed to record a shot on net.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights 4, Sharks 2