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Sharks hand Vegas division crown
Botched power play ends in disaster
3/31/18 - By Mike Lee -

All those visions of catching the Vegas Knights and overtaking them for the Pacific Division crown can be silently swept under the rug. The Sharks dropped their last regular season match up with the Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Nevada on Saturday night on a botched power play, ending any thoughts of division title. The 3-2 loss to Vegas also extended the Sharks losing streak to three games. San Jose needs two points to secure a playoff spot, with three games to play.

Could a catastrophic collapse foil the Sharks plans? Anything's possible. On Tuesday, the Sharks play the Dallas Stars, who are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but cannot eliminate the Sharks. Their next two opponents can however. The Colorado Avalanche comes to SAP Center on Thursday and they sit 6 points behind the Sharks with 3 games to play. The Sharks will close out the regular season on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild, who are two points behind San Jose.

If the Sharks play the way they have the past two games, a playoff lockout is certainly possible.

San Jose played catch up all night. Vegas scored a go-ahead goal three times, but the Sharks could only match those advantages twice.

The Knights didn't record their first shot on goal until the 2:21 mark of the game, but that shot found its way past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. Vegas defender Shea Theodore threw the puck on net from the high slot, and a screen by Alex Tuch blinded Jones from ever picking up the puck. The goal was Theodore's 8th of the season.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski tied the game less than 5 minutes later, depositing a big rebound from the slot for his 21st goal of the season. Timo Meier fired a shot from the right side, but Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made the stop with his right leg pad. The puck kicked out right to Pavelski.

Oscar Lindberg helped Vegas retake the lead 3:03 into the 2nd period, on what the scorekeeper ruled as a deflection past Jones. The replay suggested that a shot by Theodore was redirected by Marc-Edouard Vlasic's skate and skipped between Lindberg's skates, but he never touched it. Regardless, the goal counted and San Jose was forced to battle back once again.

Vlasic did exactly that by tying the game once again with his career-high 11th goal of the season 9:50 into the period. Pavelski tried putting a shot on goal from the blueline, but the puck hit Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb in the slot. The puck landed on Vlasic's stick for a put back chance that Fleury was late on.

A Jon Merrill tripping penalty setup the Sharks with their 2nd power play chance of the game 7:35 into the 3rd period. It should have primed San Jose potentially grab a lead, but a blind pass back to the point skipped past the last Shark and sprung William Karlsson on a short-handed breakaway chance. Karlsson carried the puck up ice then cut to his right, dropped the puck between his skates and flipped a shot past Jones for the 3-2 Knights lead.

San Jose should have been able to take it to the Knights, who played 24 hours earlier. That didn't pan out as the Knights actually out-shot San Jose 12-7 in the period. San Jose would never really challenge Fleury the remainder of the game. San Jose pulled Jones with a minute left in regulation, but they couldn't maintain possession of the puck long enough to mount an attack on the Vegas net. Time expired and Vegas secured the division title.

Game Notes:

* San Jose dropped the season series with Vegas, going 1-2-1 against the Knights. Not only did that drop the season series to an expansion team, but they lost to a team that integrates gold lame' into the uniform.

* Joonas Donskoi made his return to the Sharks lineup after missing the last eight games due to a shoulder injury.

* Logan Couture continues to be a no-show as the Sharks struggle to command key games. The Sharks forward was a -2, and had 2 shots on goal in 19:10 of ice time on 25 shifts.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
VGK 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, VGK, Theodore 6 (Karlsson, Engelland), 2:21. 2, SJ, Pavelski 21 (Meier, Donskoi), 7:14.
2nd period - 3, VGK, Lindberg 8 (Theodore), 3:03. 4, SJ, Vlasic 11 (Pavelski, Braun), 9:50.
3rd period - 5, VGK, Karlsson 42 (unassisted), 8:35, (sh).
Penalties
1st period - Kane, SJ (hooking), 2:41; Haula, VGK (hooking), 7:32.
2nd period - Labanc, SJ (high sticking), 5:41; Burns, SJ (tripping), 19:47.
3rd period - Merrill, VGK (tripping), 7:35. Kane, SJ (tripping), 12:45.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 38 35
VGK - Fleury 31 29
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 14 10 7 31
VGK 10 16 12 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
VGK 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Shea Theodore
William Karlsson
Attendance
T-Mobile Arena - 18,458
Officials
Referees: Joannette, Brenk. Linesmen: Racicot, Mach.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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