Sharks

Sharks

The Sharks forced overtime in Game 3 by doing something they’d not previously managed against the Vegas Golden Knights. San Jose scored two goals in the third period against Vegas for the first time in seven games dating back to the teams’ first-ever face-off on Black Friday.

Including Monday, as well as the regular season, six of seven Sharks-Golden Knights matchups were within two goals entering the final frame. Five were within a goal, most recently when San Jose led in Game 2, and all four regular season matchups were tied up headed into the third.

The erasure of a two-goal, third-period deficit brought the Sharks’ goal differential in those aforementioned third periods (or, the ones excluding last Thursday’s Game 1 blowout) up to minus-one. But, San Jose still lost in overtime, and once again struggled to control play five-on-five against Vegas during the final 20 minutes of regulation.

As the close contests continued, the Golden Knights have gotten better as the game’s gone longer. The table below shows the Sharks’ corsi-for, shots-for, scoring chance-for, and high-danger chance for percentages during the third period in the six non-blowouts against the team from Sin City.
 

Stat

Value

5v5 CF%

41.48 percent

5v5 SF%

43.53 percent

5v5 SCF%

45 percent

5v5 HDCF%

46.81 percent

 

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

 

These five-on-five, third-period numbers, independent of context, look like that of a team sitting on a lead. San Jose had a lead entering just one of those six periods, lost that lead in Game 2 on Saturday. Otherwise, as we mentioned: Four of those six periods began with the Sharks tied, and one began with them trailing by a goal.

 

Vegas and San Jose have not been separated by much entering the third period of games against one another, but the expansion club has largely been better five-on-five in the last 20 minutes. The Golden Knights have been better in overtime this series, too, attempting 55.56 percent of the five-on-five shots and generating 52.94 percent of the scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So, what gives? It’s possible that Vegas is pulling away from San Jose thanks to its speed advantage as close games progress, and the slower Sharks then are unable to do much to push for a deciding goal of any fashion.

Head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters after Game 3 that his team has “[chased] the game” in all three games this series, and been unable to establish any real separation on the scoreboard. That’s been the case dating back to the regular season, too: San Jose has not led Vegas by more than two goals at any point in seven contests.

Sitting on such a lead in the third could only serve to amplify these issues (Hello, score effects), but the Sharks likely won’t be able to get a lead in the first place without improving their third-period performance. They finally broke through for a pair of goals on Monday, despite ceding a majority of five-on-five possession, shots, and chances.

Turning those latter aspects around will go a long way towards ensuring a similar offensive outburst is no longer irregular.