Preview: Golden Knights at Sharks
Tomas Hertl insisted that the San Jose Sharks were the better team following a win in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Whether the Sharks are indeed better is debatable, but they have to chance to complete a stunning comeback and eliminate Vegas when the teams clash in Game 7 on Tuesday night in San Jose.
Hertl had backtracked on his guarantee that the Sharks would force a deciding Game 7 but then he ensured it would happen by scoring the game-winning short-handed goal in double overtime in Sunday night's 2-1 victory. "It feels great," Hertl said after scoring three times in the past two games to help San Jose rally from a 3-1 series deficit. "You know, everyone will say there's a guarantee for Game 7 and everything. Well, there is the guarantee: Game 7. Now we have to go and finish it." The Golden Knights have to regroup after owning a staggering 59 to 28 margin in shots on goal Sunday, but they won Game 2 on the road and eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 in San Jose last year. "Everybody knows there's no tomorrow after tomorrow," coach Gerard Gallant said Monday. "Play your game. Win the hockey game, you move on. You lose, you're gone for the summer. I assume our guys will be ready to go."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportnet, Sportsnet360, TVAS, AT&T Sportsnet-Rocky Mountain (Las Vegas), NBCS California (San Jose)
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: After piling up 16 goals in winning Games 2-4, Vegas has been limited to three tallies in the past two contests, prompting Gallant to consider a lineup change for the winner-take-all Game 7. "That's definitely a possibility. I'm not saying we're going to do it, just saying we're talking about it," said Gallant, who would likely choose from among forwards Ryan Carpenter, Brandon Pirri or Nikita Gusev, signed earlier this month after earning MVP honors in the Kontinental Hockey League. Defenseman Shea Theodore collected his sixth assist of the series Sunday night.
ABOUT THE SHARKS: Coach Peter DeBoer resisted the urge to switch goaltenders after Martin Jones was yanked early in Games 2 and 4 and was pierced for six goals in Game 3, but the perseverance has paid off for San Jose. Jones turned aside 30 of 32 shots in Game 5 and registered a playoff career high with 58 saves Sunday night to fend off the relentless Golden Knights. “The confidence in this room in Martin Jones has not wavered once," forward Logan Couture said. "I’m sure the media has written and talked about what they wanted, but the main thing is the confidence in this room never wavered.”
1. Vegas Fs Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone have been held off the scoresheet in the past two games after combining for 28 points in the first four.
2. Hertl has five goals in the series for San Jose, which is 3-1 at home in Game 7.
3. Golden Knights G Marc-Andre Fleury is 3-3 in Game 7 situations, all with Pittsburgh.
PREDICTION: Sharks 4, Golden Knights 2