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WCSF Game 4 - Sharks knot series with win
Martin Jones leads Sharks to big 4-0 victory
5/2/18 - By Mike Lee -

If the Sharks continue to play the way they did on Wednesday evening at SAP Center, then the Vegas Knights have a tall order to deal with. The Sharks morphed into a hard-hitting, quick skating, forecheck commanding brute in Game 4 of San Jose's Western Conference Semi Finals series with Vegas. San Jose kept a constant stream of pressure on a Knights team that looked vulnerable for the first time in the series. The Sharks rolled four lines that kept the Knights on their heels most of the game, and received goal scoring from four different skaters. Martin Jones made 34 saves for his second shutout of these playoffs.

It was the response the Sharks needed to have following their heart-breaking overtime loss in Game 3. The distribution of energy was spread across each line and that translated to a constant stream of pressure intended to keep the Knights defending, rather than attacking.

The two teams were almost even on the shot counter by the end of the period, but San Jose struck for a pair of goals late in the period.

Marcus Sorensen opened the scoring with arguably the most exciting goal of the night 15:37 into the contest. The young Swede scooped the puck off the end boards before looping out of the right corner and circling back toward the net. Sorensen deeked right, drawing defenseman Jon Merrill to commit the wrong way before continuing left. Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury tried to stretch with his right leg pad, but Sorensen waited him out and lifted a shot home for the 1-0 lead.

Joonas Donskoi made his return to the lineup after missing Game 3 with an undisclosed injury. The forward pushed the Sharks lead to 2-0 with just 5.1 seconds remaining in the period by snapping a shot from the high slot that Fleury either lost, or miscalculated the puck's trajectory. Donskoi fired the shot between Brayden McNabb's skates as the Vegas defenseman back-skated in front of the Sharks forward. That may have impeded Fleury's ability to pick up the shot off of Donskoi's stick.

Regardless, the Sharks had a big two-goal lead heading into the first intermission. The effort mirrored San Jose's output in the opening period of Game 3, but this time the Sharks were rewarded.

San Jose made it a 3-0 game 5:35 into the 2nd period when Mikkel Boedker tried a power move around the back of the Knights net before wrapping a shot around the right post. Boedker fought off Deryk Engelland on his way to the post, but Fleury made the initial save with his leg pad. Tomas Hertl crashed the net and Boedker's shot deflected off of Fleury, deflecting to Hertl's skate. The Sharks forward kicked it to his stick blade with two defenders draped on him and punched home his 5th goal of the season.

Jones preserved the lead with his best save of the game midway through the period. The Knights had a would be goal lined up from the left side but Jones lunged forward to smother the shot, before defenseman Brent Burns swept the puck out of the crease.

The Sharks goaltender never looked rattled, and his demeanor may have kept his teammates calm. Vegas threw 14 shots at Jones in the 2nd period, but each was turned aside.

Referee Dan O'Halloran had a tough time discerning infractions from regular hockey play. The official mistook Burns and William Carrier's wrestling match along the side boards for a Burns roughing infraction, setting up one of five power plays for the Knights. As was the case with the other four Vegas power plays, the Sharks kept the puck out of their own net.

Logan Couture was called for tripping as he bumped into Engelland with 37 seconds left in the period, crediting O'Halloran with another suspect penalty call. The on ice officials would miss a blatant slash on Meier, which left him bleeding on the wrist later in the game.

McNabb was called for tripping Hertl at 11:16 of the 3rd period, and the Sharks used that opportunity to extend their lead. Joe Pavelski took a Logan Couture feed as he was parked on the left post, then tried to jam a shot past Fleury. The Knights netminder made the initial save, but Pavelski gathered the rebound and slipped a shot around Fleury's left pad for his second goal of the playoffs.

With the game all but decided, the Knights decided to show their colors. Carrier decided take a run at Brendan Dillon, leaving his feet to apply a check in the Sharks defensive zone. Carrier was immediately called for a roughing double-minor, but Evander Kane decided to settle his own score by cross checking the Knights winger.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dillon got in on the act, with both earning 10 minute misconduct penalties, which were served in their respective showers. The Sharks ran the clock out on the power play, which was made even easier when McNabb swatted a waist-high puck over the glass in the defensive zone for a delay of game penalty.

Game Notes:

* Logan Couture and Brendan Dillon each recorded a pair of assists in the game. Nine sharks skaters recorded points in the game.

* The two teams combined for 44 penalty minutes in the game, fueled by the two ten-minute misconduct penalties that were assessed late in the contest.

* One of the keys to the win was the Sharks focus on laying the body on the Knights. San Jose controlled the team speed that Vegas used to run roughshod on them in Game 1, by using a heavy dose of body checks to wear down the Knights.

* Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant has openly accused the Sharks of running picks and was incensed with Sorensen's goal. He believed that Melker Karlsson interfered with Engelland as Sorensen circled toward the Vegas net.

* Bay Area native and current Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon opened the locker room door to kick off the night.


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1 2 3 T
VGK 0 0 0 0
SJ 2 1 1 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Sorensen 4 (Fehr, Dillon), 15:37. 2, SJ, Donskoi 2 (Dillon), 19:54.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Hertl 5 (Boedker, Couture), 5:35.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Pavelski 2 (Couture, Burns), 11:43, (pp).
1st period - Boedker, SJ (interference), 16:43.
2nd period - Merrill, VGK (hooking), 2:41; Burns, SJ (roughing), 14:30; Couture, SJ (tripping), 19:23.
3rd period - Schmidt, VGK (hooking), 0:59; Burns, SJ (hooking), 5:51; McNabb, VGK (tripping), 11:16; Meier, SJ (interference), 15:22; Carrier, VGK (roughing), 18:08; Carrier, VGK (roughing), 18:08; Beelemare, VGK (10 min misconduct), 18:08; Kane, SJ (cross checking) 18:08; Dillon, SJ (10 min misconduct), 18:08; McNabb, VGK (delay of game - puck over glass), 19:03.
Shots Saves
VGK - Fleury 34 30
SJ - Jones 34 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VGK 9 14 11 34
SJ 11 13 10 34
Power Play Conversion
VGK 0 of 5
SJ 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Martin Jones
Tomas Hertl
Marcus Sorensen
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: O'Halloran, Meier. Linesmen: Cherrey, MacPherson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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