The Anaheim Ducks scored their fourth goal in the first round against the Sharks 227:53 into the series. The Vegas Golden Knights needed less than 12 minutes.
San Jose ultimately gave up five in a 23:28 span, and dropped Game 1 of the second round in Sin City 7-0. Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, and Jonathan Marchessault scored in a 91-second span early in the first period to all but seal the game, while Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, and James Neal each added another to put it well out of reach.
The Sharks reeled from the very beginning. 63 seconds in, Tomas Hertl took a high-sticking penalty, and a minute after he left the box, an unmarked Cody Eakin tipped Brayden McNabb’s point shot past Martin Jones to open the scoring.
Erik Haula scored 26 seconds later, and the Golden Knights held a 2-0 lead before the clock struck five minutes. Vegas winger James Neal tied up and threw down San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon in the neutral zone, leaving center Logan Couture as one of the last men back. Alex Tuch stickhandled around him, and left a pass for Haula to snap by Jones.
The Golden Knights scored their third goal off of another zone entry on the very next shot. Reilly Smith found fellow former Florida Panther Marchessault for his first of the postseason, while Sharks blueliner Brent Burns hesitated to step out on him as Smith fired a short side shot from the face-off dot.
After Marchessault scored at the 6:02, Vegas had more five-on-five goals (three) than San Jose had five-on-five shot attempts (one).
Kevin Labanc and Burns later took penalties 48 seconds apart midway through the first period. The Sharks killed off Labanc’s penalty, but Tuch split the shorthanded San Jose defense and gave Vegas a 4-0 lead just 11:43 in to the first period.
Jones’ night ended just under three-and-a-half minutes into the second period. Shea Theodore scored the fifth Golden Knights goal, the team’s fourth off of a zone entry. Theodore drove the net on a two-on-one, and a desperate Jones sprawled to stop his tip-in to no avail.
Vegas scored twice in the third period, capitalizing on two penalties from San Jose’s first line. Joe Pavelski took a slashing penalty moments after the Sharks killed an interference penalty, while Evander Kane cross-checked Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s face and received a major penalty plus a ten-minute misconduct.
With both players in the box, Colin Miller’s slapped a shot past Sharks backup Aaron Dell to make it 6-0. James Neal converted the extra point on a wraparound as Kane’s major wound down.
Kane is likely to hear from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, but is not a “repeat offender” according to league policy. Four players have been suspended this postseason, double the total from last year. If the NHL opts for a phone hearing, Kane will be suspended for five games or less or fined more than $5,000, according to league policy. An in-person hearing means he faces a suspension of six-or-more games.
Thursday marked San Jose’s most lopsided loss in the playoffs in six years. The Sharks lost to the Detroit Red Wings 7-1 on May 6, 2010, but beat them the following game to advance to the Western Conference Finals. It was the second seven-goal loss in the team’s playoff history. San Jose lost to the Calgary Flames 9-2, and then the following game, but won the series in seven games.
Reilly Smith led the Golden Knights in scoring with three points in the first round. He matched that total 23-and-a-half minutes into Game 1.
Smith added three shots on goal, tied for the team lead.
Sharks: 0-for-5 on the power play, 7-for-10 on the penalty kill
San Jose allowed more power-play goals on Thursday (three) than in the entirety of the first round. Vegas scored two more power-play goals in Game 1 than in four first-round games against the Los Angeles Kings.
Golden Knights: 3-for-10 on the power play, 5-for-5 on the penalty kill
Sharks: Martin Jones struggled. He allowed four goals on the first seven shots he faced, including three in a row, and five on 13 in total. Aaron Dell replaced him early in the second period after the fifth goal.
Jones was largely hung out to dry, but two of the five goals Jones gave up came on low-danger shots, according to Corsica Hockey. He allowed no low-danger goals in the first round against Anaheim.
Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury remained spectacular. He stopped every San Jose shot he faced, and picked up his third shutout in five starts this postseason.
Fleury was instrumental in killing off a pair of penalties late in the first period. He stopped all eight Sharks shots during the extended power-play sequence, and effectively shut the door on their comeback.
Sharks: Joe Thornton (right MCL sprain) was ruled out ahead of Game 1, and has now missed 40 straight games. San Jose made no other lineup changes from Game 4 of the first round against Anaheim.
Golden Knights: Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant opted not to make any lineup changes from Game 4 against Los Angeles, despite defenseman Luca Sbisa being ready to rejoin the lineup after not playing since Feb. 27.
The Sharks will try to salvage a split in Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday. Coverage begins with Sharks Playoff Central on NBC Sports California at 4:30 p.m, followed by puck drop on NBCSN at 5 p.m. Tune into NBC Sports California immediately after the final horn for postgame reaction and analysis.