Sharks

Sharks

Occasionally in the face of defeat, a team might try to take some positives out of its performance. But positives were hard for the Sharks to find Sunday night in their 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

A few different things can be blamed for the Sharks falling behind two games to one in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series. Overall, San Jose just didn't play a good enough game, from matching up against Vegas' stealthy Mark Stone-led line to playing on its heels from 16 seconds into the game.

"We didn't do enough to win tonight," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer deadpanned when he addressed the media after the Game 3 loss.

Tough starts have plagued San Jose against Vegas, and Sunday's game showcased the worst of that bad habit.

Vegas scored goals at the 16-second mark in the first period, the 21-second mark of the second and the 36-second mark of the third, making them just the second team in NHL history with markers in the first minute of all three periods in a playoff game. With those three goals, the Knights now have scored five of their 11 in the series within the first five minutes of periods.

Darin Stephens, NBC Sports Bay Area's truck statistician, pointed out that Stone's first-period goal was the quickest the Sharks have allowed in their playoff history. Per the NHL Public Relations Twitter account, the Knights now are the 13th team in NHL history and the third in the last 30 years to score in the opening minute of consecutive playoff games.

 

"It wasn't just the first, it was each period here tonight," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "We need better play out of all of us. Bottom line."

Stone, who recorded his first career NHL hat trick in Game 3, easily has been Vegas' best player through the first three games of this first-round series. His line with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty has been positively lethal, and it scored all six of the Knights' goals Sunday.

The line was first matched up against San Jose's Logan Couture-led top unit, then against other combos throughout the evening. Couture criticized his own line for allowing the Stone line to find second and third opportunities. When DeBoer was asked about it, the coach admitted he still hadn't found a key to shutting down that line.

"They've eaten us up here this series -- we haven't had an answer for them," DeBoer candidly said during his post-game press conference. "What do they do well? Well, you've got three really good players who are playing at a really high level right now. That's part of the issue. We've got to find a way to slow those guys down."

As for finding a line that could match Stone and Co.'s intensity, DeBoer admitted the whole team needs to step up in that regard.

"I don't think we had enough participants playing at a high enough level," he said, before adding: "One thing about our group is that they don't quit. So, that's something we can hang our hat on. But we didn't do enough to win tonight. We weren't good enough across the board to win tonight."

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The Sharks face the prospect of being booted from the playoffs by Vegas for a second year in a row. Granted, the series is just three games old, and Team Teal will have an opportunity to even things up in Game 4 on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena.

They'll need a much better performance across the board, however, if that's going to happen.