Sharks

Sharks on the brink after third-period comeback falls short

Sharks on the brink after third-period comeback falls short

BOX SCORE

The Sharks’ third-period comeback fell short, and San Jose is now a game away from elimination after the Vegas Golden Knights picked up a 5-3 win, and a 3-2 series lead, in Game 5 on Friday night. 

The Sharks trailed by four goals after Alex Tuch chased Martin Jones with just under 11-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third period. Kevin Labanc cut the lead to one about a minute later with San Jose's lone power-play goal. 

With 9:16 remaining in regulation, the mini-comeback was on. Tomas Hertl scored 129 seconds after Labanc to make it a two-goal deficit, burying Mikkel Boedker's pass into the top corner past a prone Marc-Andre Fleury. It was Hertl's team-leading sixth goal of the postseason.

Boedker himself got the Sharks within a goal five minutes later. He gathered a loose puck onto his forehand, lifted a shot over a sprawling Fleury, and scored his first goal of the playoffs.

That was as close as San Jose would get, as Vegas clamped down defensively and limited the Sharks to two shot attempts over the final four-and-a-half minutes, Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault iced the game with an empty-net goal to regain the two-goal advantage with 1:21 remaining.

Vegas jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to two goals from Alex Tuch, and one apiece from James Neal and Erik Haula. Neal scored with three seconds remaining in the first period, capping off a 20-minute stretch in which the Golden Knights held a clear edge in five-on-five shot attempts (28-19), shots (15-7), and scoring chances (13-7). 

Fleury wasn’t challenged much early, but made a game-changing save when he was. He turned the puck over behind his net in the first period, but the netminder recovered quickly to deny Mikkel Boedker from in close and keep the game scoreless.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic picked up high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the final minute, while Brenden Dillon and Deryk Engelland were each sent off for a 10-minute misconduct seconds later.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant moved David Perron to the second line, and Perron rewarded his faith. Perron picked up a pair of assists for the second time this series.

His puck work kept the play alive on the first, and his hard pass created space for Haula on the second. Neither goal stood as the winner, but he helped Vegas jump out to a big lead early on.

WHAT’S NEXT

The series heads back to San Jose for a potentially decisive Game 6 on Sunday. Puck drops on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m, followed by a postgame edition of Sharks Playoff Central on NBC Sports California immediately after the final horn.

Martin Jones 'really solid' in preseason debut despite Sharks' loss

Martin Jones 'really solid' in preseason debut despite Sharks' loss

SAN JOSE - Martin Jones didn't give up a goal in the first few minutes of Saturday's game against the Vegas Golden Knights. In many of his starts last season, that was not the case.

And even though Saturday's game was a preseason tuneup, it was a good sign.

Jones is entering the upcoming season under a bit more scrutiny than some of his previous campaigns. His save percentage dipped in 2019 from .915 to .896, and his habit of giving up the first goal early in games had the team in front of him playing from behind on one too many occasions.

Despite ending the season tied for the third-most regular-season wins among goalies across the league last year, there's no denying he needs to be better in his 2019-20 campaign.

Although the Sharks fell to the rival Golden Knights 3-1 on Saturday evening, Sharks' head coach Peter DeBoer was happy with Jones' first preseason outing.

"I thought he was really solid," DeBoer said afterward. "I thought he played a really good game."

Jones appeared to see the game pretty well for most of the evening, flashing the leather a few times when the Vegas offense began to pick up steam.

Even though Vegas' next two goals -- scored by familiar foes Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch -- were a bit reminiscent of goals scored against Jones last year, the goalie was able to rebound and shake off a little more of that preseason rust. 

Score aside, Jones' first preseason contest gives more hope that San Jose's goaltending arsenal can bounce back this season. Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, impressed in his first preseason showing last week against the Anaheim Ducks.

This has created some suspicion that one of San Jose's young netminders have a window to fight for the backup job. With just two preseason games left until the Sharks' 2019-20 campaign opens up on the road in Las Vegas, both goalies are bound to get more work in as they gear up for the regular season.

On that same note, San Jose still has roles to fill on their roster, and just about a week to make some decisions as to who will skate with the big club on opening night. 

In Saturday's game against the Golden Knights, forward Lean Bergmann and defenseman Mario Ferraro were the big standouts. But as DeBoer told the press after the game, this audition period is now drawing to a close and his roster needs to be put together.

[RELATED: How Sharks can fill void on defense until Radim Simek re-joins team]

"You start running out of evaluation nights," the head coach said. "We're getting close. We have to start getting our group together and start to get ready. That's what this is about. So the guys, I think, between the training camp scrimmages and the exhibition games, have had more than enough opportunity to show us what they can do."

San Jose's final three preseason games will be against the Ducks, Flames, and Golden Knights. 

How Sharks can fill void on defense until Radim Simek re-joins team

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USATSI

How Sharks can fill void on defense until Radim Simek re-joins team

It's a darn good thing the Sharks have a bevy of talent coming up the pipeline -- especially on defense.

With news coming out of training camp Friday that Radim Simek is questionable to be ready for game-action when the season opens on Oct. 2, the focus shifts not just to when he might finally rejoin the team, but to who will most likely fill in that void on San Jose's blue line.

With four preseason games remaining, San Jose has a couple of options when it comes to filling in that roster spot.

Being that Simek is a left-handed shooter, the best bets to pencil into the roster from San Jose's group of young talent are Jacob Middleton and Mario Ferraro. Middleton has a strong chance of being the go-to guy, having been recalled from the Barracuda on a few occasions last season to fill in when the injury bug bit the Sharks' blue line especially hard.

Fans might remember Middleton's surprise NHL debut back in January when he went from prepping for a road trip with the Barracuda one night to practicing alongside Brent Burns the following morning. At that time, left-handed defensemen Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were both out of the lineup.

Even with Middleton's prior experience at the NHL level, Ferraro will likely still be a consideration to make the opening night roster. The 21-year-old has been impressing the organization since he participated in rookie development camp back in July and has continued that trend through training camp. Ferraro also has recently been paired up in camp with Dalton Prout -- who the Sharks will likely keep in mind to fill in should one of their right-handed defensemen be sidelined.

Having a few different players who can file into the lineup also gives DeBoer more options as far as mixing and matching his d-pairs. Middleton filled right into Simek's spot alongside Burns last year, and should the pairing of Brenden Dillon and Erik Karlsson stay intact, the Middleton-Burns pairing could be reunited with Vlasic being paired up with Tim Heed. If both Ferraro and Prout demonstrate they're a reliable pair to start, the duo might get the nod which would keep Vlasic and Burns skating together as they have been through the start of the preseason.

Of course, those are just guesses as to how DeBoer's lineup will shake up until Simek comes back healthy.

Naturally, the best-case scenario is that Simek gets into the lineup sooner rather than later. San Jose did go 29-9-3 with a healthy Simek in the lineup last season, after all. Plus, Simek's ticket into a regular roster spot was his uncanny chemistry with Burns.

[RELATED: Why Sharks expect Meier to take step forward]

That being said, the Sharks don't want to rush the Czech defenseman back into the lineup too quickly. Sure, Simek has been training for some time now, following surgery to repair the ACL and MCL in his right knee. Teammate Tomas Hertl told the press on the first day of camp that he talked to Simek over the summer and that the blueliner has been "working his ass off" to get back into playing shape. Nevertheless, the Sharks don't want to bring Simek back to quickly and risk him re-injuring himself.

At least the Sharks have good options for filling out their blue line until he returns.