SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' playoff run ended in Game 6 of the second round on Sunday, in a 3-0 loss to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights advanced to the Western Conference finals with the win. Jonathan Marchessault and Nate Schmidt scored in the second period, while Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 28 San Jose shots.
Marchessault got the Golden Knights on the board 6:33 into the second period. Linemate William Karlsson forced Marc-Edouard Vlasic to turn the puck over, while Reilly Smith grabbed the loose puck to set up a wide-open Marchessault on top of Martin Jones’ crease.
Tomas Hertl nearly gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead when he rang a shot off of the crossbar on a mini-breakaway 9:08 into regulation, and came oh-so-close to tying it on another one at around the same point of the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked aside Hertl’s backhand shot, then sprawled as Hertl’s follow-up hit the outside of the net.
Fleury’s saves preserved the lead, and Nate Schmidt capitalized on an offensive-zone faceoff with 4:22 remaining in the second. Schmidt’s wrist shot quickly rang out off of Jones’ right post, the camera along the back bar, and then the right post, and play continued briefly until a horn announced the play was under review. Review determined the puck crossed the goal line, and the Sharks trailed 2-0 entering the third.
Brent Burns hit the post with a shot from the point late in the third period, but San Jose didn't generate a lot of offense otherwise. The Golden Knights ensured their magical first season continued into the Conference Finals with Cody Eakin's empty-net goal with 1:51 remaining.
Fleury got some help from his goal post in the first period, but once again kept his team in the game. He stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first period, including four on a pair of power plays, to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes.
None of his saves were bigger than when he stopped Hertl in the second, though, as it enabled the Golden Knights to take a two-goal lead which the Sharks could not erase.
Golden Knights: Vegas awaits the winner of Winnipeg-Nashville. The Jets will have a chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference finals on Monday.
Sharks: San Jose’s season is now over, and an interesting offseason lies ahead. The Sharks are set to have at least $17.5 million in salary cap space, depending on how high the salary cap rises.
Dylan DeMelo, Tomas Hertl, and Chris Tierney are pending restricted free agents, while Eric Fehr, Jannik Hansen, Evander Kane, Joe Thornton, and Joel Ward can become unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on July 1. Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, and Joe Pavelski are among the players eligible to sign contract extensions.