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WCSF Game 1: Sharks embarrassed in opener
Vegas pounds SJ 7-0
4/26/18 - By Mike Lee -

The Conference Semi-Finals kicked off in Las Vegas on Thursday night, but somebody forgot to tell the Sharks. San Jose showed up for an ice cream social, but instead got punched in the mouth, kicked in the groin and spit on by the expansion Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in a lop-sided 7-0 loss. So much for sweeping the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks quick disposal of Anaheim meant nothing to the Knights, who scored at will, and simply man-handled San Jose in a game that set an ominous tone.

Everyone associated with San Jose was looking for positives after the first 20 minutes of play, which saw the Knights score 4 of their 7 goals in a blitzkrieg move that left the Sharks shell-shocked. The fact that anyone had to search for positives was a negative in itself. It was a psychological reaction tantamount to therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Sharks may be best served by ordering up a round of therapy for the entire organization after the shellacking they took. Cody Eakin started the mauling by deflecting a Brayden McNabb shot while parked in front of the net, just outside the right post. Eakin waved his stick blade at McNabb's shot, chipping it past Martin Jones for the 1-0 lead 4:31 into the game.

Erik Haula made it a 2-0 game just 26 seconds later, snapping an Alex Tuch drop pass from the right side. Tuch undressed Logan Couture with a move as he passed the Sharks blueline, deeking right, then cutting left to blow past the Sharks forward. The trailing Tuch, gathered the drop pass and snapped a shot, using Tuch as a screen. Couture was forced to play defense after Brendan Dillon pinched on the right side and got caught in the Knights zone. The defenseman was clubbed with a high stick behind the play as he tried to get back to help defensively, but referee Brad Watson missed the call. It would be the one call he would miss all night.

. Jonathan Marchessault whipped a shot from just inside the left dot passed Jones at 6:02 to extend the Knights lead. Jones failed to cutoff the near side of the net, allowing the shot to sail past him.

Tuch capped the period's scoring by making the Sharks defense look absolutely foolish with a power play goal at 11:43. San Jose had just killed off a Kevin Labanc penalty, but Brent Burns was still parked in the penalty box for a delay of game penalty. Tuch carried the puck through the neutral zone, then blew past Dillon and Dylan DeMelo on his way to an uncontested shot that Jones would not stop. For some reason, Dillon peeled toward the boards as Tuch skated right up the middle of the ice, parting the red sea for the Knights forward. It was a bewildering decision on a night full of questionable Sharks judgement.

With the four spot on the board, the Sharks had a chance to regroup with the intermission break. An optimist will tell you that their results in the second period was an improvement. The Knights would only out-score San Jose 1-0 in the middle frame, fueled by a Shea Theodore goal.

Theodore capitalized on a Mikkel Boedker turnover in the Knight zone, skating up ice with Marchessault and Reilly Smith. The trio put together a tic-tac-toe passing sequence and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun stumbled to try and fill lanes. Theodore tapped a Smith pass from the doorstep, without a Sharks defender within 10 feet of him. It was a complete undressing of the Sharks defense.

That play would end Jones evening, as he was replaced by backup netminder Aaron Dell. It was a move that came 20 minutes too late. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer had nothing up his sleeve, other than to try and save his goaltender for Game 2 on Saturday. DeBoer commented after the game that the Sharks had a long list of issues to deal with, and goaltending was certainly on the list.

Vegas would score a pair of power play goals after the Sharks lost their cool and imploded with a series of penalties. Things escalated when Watson called Sharks captain Joe Pavelski for interference at the 1:08 mark. The call was questionable at best, but it got Pavelski's blood boiling. It was bad enough that the Sharks were getting their teeth kicked in at that point, but to have Watson start calling ticky tack penalties was more than Pavelski would tolerate.

Pavelski blew a gasket when he was hit by Edouard Bellemare. Evender Kane intervened by skating up to Bellemare and cross checking him across the face. Bellemare, a French national, did his best soccer impersonation, diving as if he were hit by a sledgehammer. The play was comical if not for the 5 minute cross checking major that Kane earned, along with a trip to the showers with the game misconduct penalty he earned.

Pavelski somehow avoided an ejection while sitting in the penalty box for interference, as he let Watson know of his frustrations by screaming at the official who seemed more interested in showing off his mastery of the NHL rule book, than calling a game that was well out of reach.

Defenseman Colin Miller got in on the scoring fun, one-timing a shot past Dell while the Knights wer on the 2-man advantage.

James Neal tacked on the extra point at 8:09 with the Knights 3rd power play goal of the game, stuffing a puck past Dell from the doorstep as he sat parked outside the right post.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
VGK 4 1 2 7
1st period - 1, VGK, Eakin 2 (McNabb, Perron), 4:31. 2, VGK, Haula 2 (Tuch, Neal), 4:57. 3, VGK, Marchessault 1 (Smith, Karlsson), 6:02. 4, VGK, Tuch 2 (Karlsson, Smith), 11:43, (pp).
2nd period - 5, VGK, Theodore 2 (Smith, Marchessault), 3:28.
3rd period - 6, VGK, Miller 1 (Karlsson, Marchessault), 4:32, (pp). 7, VGK, Neal 2 (Perron, Haula), 8:09, (pp).
1st period - Hertl, SJ (high sticking), 1:03; Tuch, VGK (high sticking), 6:49; Labanc, SJ (hooking), 9:26; Burns, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 10:14; Smith, VGK (high sticking), 12:09; Carpenter, VGK (tripping), 13:29.
2nd period - Merrill, VGK (high sticking), 6:10; Fehr, SJ (high sticking), 8:53; Meier, SJ (tripping), 14:16; Tierney, SJ (holding), 18:43.
3rd period - Pavelski, SJ (interference), 1:08; Pavelski, SJ (slashing), 3:25; Kane, SJ (cross checking major), 3:25; Kane, SJ (game misconduct), 3:25; Bellemare, VGK (tripping), 13:19.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 13 8
SJ - Dell 21 19
VGK - Fleury 33 33
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 17 8 8 33
VGK 9 15 10 34
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
VGK 3 of 10
3 Stars of the Game
Marc Fleury
Alex Tuch
Reilly Smith
T-Mobile Arena - 18,444
Referees: Charron, Watson. Linesmen: Devorski, Gibbons.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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