Sharks keep emotions in check, season alive in Game 5 win vs. Vegas

Sharks keep emotions in check, season alive in Game 5 win vs. Vegas

SAN JOSE – To say this first-round series between the Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights has been emotional is a bit of an understatement.

The fervor brought on by the Stanley Cup playoffs was at an all-time high for the Sharks in a blowout loss in Game 4 on Tuesday, as an inability to score on Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made their frustration boil over. That, in turn, led to the Sharks lacking defensive discipline and parading to the penalty box. 

But in their season-extending 5-2 win over the Golden Knights in Game 5 on Thursday, the Sharks were on their best behavior. Vegas tried and tried to claw back into the game, and get a rise out of San Jose in the process. In the end, the Sharks didn’t give the Knights that satisfaction.

“A game like this where you lose and you go home for the summer – we understood the importance of it,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said after the win. “We've got to put our emotions to the side, and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Sharks had just four penalty minutes Thursday, compared to 38 in Game 4. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer criticized his team's emotional outburst in that one, and said Thursday he was much happier with how the Sharks handled themselves. 

“I though last game became a little bit of a sideshow,” he said. “We talked about it and I thought we did a better job.”

With the Sharks leading 2-1 in the second period, Vegas tried to get under San Jose’s skin with a little extra pushing and shoving in front of Martin Jones' net. But instead of fully engaging, the Sharks pushed back just enough to not get penalized, and then moved on to score the next goal. Barclay Goodrow redirected Justin Braun's shot past Fleury, giving the Sharks a 3-1 lead with the eventual game-winning goal. 

The Knights eventually showed frustration this time around, particularly netminder Fleury. Tomas Hertl said after Game 1 the Sharks could tell when they got Fleury frazzled, and said after Game 5 he saw that same reaction.

“Every goal he gets a little bit frustrated so we have to keep doing that,” Hertl insisted, admitting he thinks the Sharks can improve on pressuring Fleury. “We have to be a little bit better because he made the last couple huge saves. But we have to keep frustrating him and keep being harder around the net and score a couple more goals.”

While the Sharks found a way to keep those emotions at bay in Game 5, their work isn’t over yet. After forcing a Game 6, the series returns to Sin City where the Knights have the overflowing support from their home crowd. The job of keeping frustration taking over becomes even more critical.

“Fans help them always, so we have to figure it out and be ready for them,” Hertl said.

[RELATED: Hertl pulls a Messier after dominant Game 5]

Hertl himself told the Sharks fans at the Tank in his on-ice interview that Team Teal will be back in the building for a Game 7 on Tuesday. Keeping their emotions in check and staying out of the penalty box will be big keys to making his prophecy a reality.

“There’s no room to mess around,” Goodrow said. “We’ll have to go in with the same mindset that we had tonight and come out with the win and force Game 7 here.”

Blues' fourth line has caused Sharks problems during West final


Blues' fourth line has caused Sharks problems during West final

The Sharks and Blues enter Sunday afternoon's critical Game 5 of the Western Conference final all tied at two.

San Jose has held up well against St. Louis' top three lines during the first four games of the series, but it's the Blues' fourth line that has given the Sharks issues.

That's why Blues head coach Craig Berube put Ivan Barbashev, Oskar Sundqvist and Alexander Steen on the ice to open Friday night's Game 4 -- a 2-1 Blues win.

It paid off, as the line forced a turnover in the Sharks' zone 35 seconds into the game with an aggressive forecheck. After Brent Burns was crunched behind San Jose's net, the puck found its way to Barbashev. The winger ripped a shot on goal that glanced off Sharks center Gustav Nyquist and found the back of the net to give the Blues an early 1-0 lead. 

In the series, St. Louis' fourth line has scored three goals, been good on the penalty kill and aggressive on the forecheck. In short, they haven't played like a fourth line.

“They have a lot of confidence,” Berube said, via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Just getting that first shift in like that is big. It gets us to our game right away. They’ve been really good in all facets of the game, not only getting some secondary scoring from ‘em, but just put ‘em against any line out there they do the job. Penalty killing, checking, just all the little things.”

They've created scoring chances on rushes up ice and just been an overall pain in the Sharks' backside.

“I don’t call them our fourth line, but they do so much for us,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “They’re PKers, they’re scoring big goals right now. So, if you want, you can label them as that, but we don’t see that in the locker room. We feel like we’re a group of 12 forwards out there and anyone can do the job on any given night. Those guys stepped up as a line tonight and got us going.”

As the two teams get ready for an afternoon puck drop at SAP Center on Sunday, it's important that San Jose finds a way to neutralize the energy the Blues' fourth line brings.

The Sharks haven't lost two straight home games during these Stanley Cup playoffs, and taking out the energetic fourth line will go along ways to securing a Game 5 win and three-games-to-two series lead.

[RELATED: History at Game 5s on Sharks' side vs. Blues]

The Blues will need a burst of energy in order to combat what is sure to be raucous SAP Center crown Sunday afternoon. That energy has come from the fourth line during this series.

If Barbashev, Steen and Sundqvist go quiet Sunday, the Sharks have a good chance at inching closer to the Stanley Cup Final. 

Sharks vs Blues Game 5 watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs


Sharks vs Blues Game 5 watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE – After splitting the first four games of their best-of-seven series, the Sharks return home for a Sunday matinee against the Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference final. 

After tallying a controversial overtime win in Game 3, Team Teal got into an early two-goal hole in Game 4 and was unable to bounce back, falling 2-1. Tomas Hertl tallied the Sharks' lone goal on the evening during a third-period power play, while Martin Jones made 20 saves.

The Sharks are 18-18 all-time in Game 5 situations and 12-6 at SAP Center.

Here are both teams’ projected lines and defensive pairings.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Gustav Nyquist
Evander Kane - Tomas Hertl - Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Kevin Labanc
Marcus Sorensen - Barclay Goodrow - Joonas Donskoi

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan - Justin Braun

Martin Jones - projected starter
Aaron Dell

[RELATED: No injury update on Karlsson]

Blues projected lines and pairs

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Sammy Blais - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron
Patrick Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist - Alex Steen

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson – Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington - projected starter
Jake Allen