NHL Hockey

Golden Knights take momentum home vs. Sharks

(AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

The Vegas Golden Knights, after earning a road split with a 5-3 victory Friday night at the San Jose Sharks, hold home ice advantage heading into Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday night in Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights went 24-12-5 at T-Mobile Arena during the regular season and were 7-3 there during last year's run to the Stanley Cup Final. So with three of a potential five games in the series now set for Las Vegas, there was plenty of optimism -- and relief -- after Friday night's victory.

"It's huge," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said of bouncing back from a 5-2 loss in Game 1. "There's two real good teams that are going to play off here and it's going to be a battle. ... Now it's a best of five series. It was a big win for us obviously."

Marc-Andre Fleury had 34 saves in picking up his 76th career playoff win, the most for any active goaltender.

"Obviously the first game wasn't like us," he said. "I thought we found our game tonight and played a lot better."

Vegas could point to special teams and blocked shots as keys to the win. The Golden Knights scored two short-handed goals while killing seven of eight penalties, and Mark Stone's game-winning goal in the second period came on the power play. Vegas also blocked 26 shots, including two by defenseman Brayden McNabb that saved goals.

"Special teams were the difference," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said.

"Two short-handed goals and a power play goal for them. It's hard to win this time of year if you don't win the special teams. You give up the first three goals of the game and you lose that battle, you're playing with fire. That was disappointing."

DeBoer yanked starting goalie Martin Jones less than seven minutes into the game after he allowed three goals on seven shots. It was the fifth time in 15 career games against the Golden Knights that Jones hasn't finished a game he started, including three in the playoffs.

Jones will be back in the lineup Sunday.

"We were down 3-0 (seven) minutes in," DeBoer said. "I didn't put it on Jonesy. We needed a shot in the arm to kind of change our momentum."

That strategy appeared to pay dividends. San Jose rallied to tie the game later in the period with three goals in the span of a little over two minutes, becoming the first team in Stanley Cup playoff history to tie a game in the first period after falling behind 3-0.

San Jose then appeared to take a 4-3 lead in the first minute of the second period on a Brent Burns goal. However, the score was disallowed when Logan Couture, stationed in front of Fleury, was penalized for goaltender interference. Stone then scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play.

Depending on which coach you listened to afterward, it was either a good call or a very bad one.

"It was awesome," Gallant said. "It was definitely the right call."

"That one call is a two-goal swing in the game, and it was devastating for our group," said DeBoer, who felt the goal should have been allowed to stand and then reviewed on a challenge by the Situation Room in Toronto. "It's a shame."

The teams split two games in Las Vegas during the regular season, with the Golden Knights beating goalie Aaron Dell and the Sharks, 6-0, on Nov. 24. San Jose, behind 36 saves by Jones, won 3-2 on Jan. 10.

DeBoer said Saturday that he had no update on the condition of defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic who left Friday night's game in the second period after getting hit in the back of his left shoulder by a shot by Shea Theodore.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 14, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.