Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-0 loss in Game 4 vs. Vegas

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-0 loss in Game 4 vs. Vegas

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If watching the Sharks lose Game 3 for their first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series was painful for fans, watching Game 4 was just downright frustrating.

San Jose outshot and outplayed the Vegas Golden Knights for stretches Tuesday, but the Sharks now are facing elimination after a 5-0 loss in Game 4. Some lineup changes injected life into the team, but the puck did not bounce their way -- or stay out of their net. 

Here are three takeaways as the Sharks trail 3-1 in the series.

Fleury on fire

There's just no denying it. The Sharks could have had a lead over the Golden Knights at the end of the first period with how hard they were working offensively. All four of San Jose's newly-fashioned lines were pressing to find the back of the net, not showing any let-up or quit.

But Fleury, who San Jose's offense was able to frustrate so well in Game 1, just wouldn't budge. Even before he stopped Evander Kane on a breakaway chance in the second period, it was clear he was making a case for being the first star on the evening.

Fleury's defense also did their part to halt the Sharks' best attempts to get on the board. Even though San Jose did good work to keep the puck in the offensive zone and continued applying pressure, Vegas' defensive effort added to Fleury's magnificent performance by blocking 18 shots on the evening.

Even when the Sharks wre able to get around Vegas defense, they couldn't find a way to score. On the other side of the ice, however ...

No help between the pipes

Sharks fans might've been tempted to breathe a sigh of relief when goaltender Martin Jones didn't allow the first goal of the game in the first minute of the first period -- until Max Pacioretty put the Knights up 11 seconds after it ended. San Jose's offense grinded on the other end to try for the equalizer, outshooting Vegas 18-7 in the first period.

But, the Knights scored the next goal, taking a 2-0 lead into the second period. It arguably was the goal that changed the game, and it wasn't much of a surprise when Aaron Dell took over duties between the pipes starting in the second stanza.

The Sharks' defense shouldn't have allowed Shea Theodore to maneuver his way through the Sharks' zone so easily, but Jones still needed to stop the puck on that play. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer noted during the team's losses down the stretch that they weren't getting the saves they needed, and the first period of Game 4 was the perfect example of that.

Given the number of goals Jones has surrendered in the last three games -- within the first five minutes of the period or otherwise -- it goes to wonder if DeBoer decides to start Dell in net when the series returns to San Jose for Game 5 on Thursday.

[RELATED: Déjà vu all over again for Sharks to open Game 4 vs. Vegas]

Defensive effort isn't getting it done

San Jose has had the bodies to fill in for injured players, but it was evident in Game 4 they still miss Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Really, the Sharks' big defensive woes started back in Game 2 after Vlasic left after getting hit by a Shea Theodore shot.

It hasn't helped that Erik Karlsson hasn't looked healthy since Game 3, nor have the Sharks' abundance of turnovers since the series shifted Sin City. Poor puck management has given the Knights plenty of chances to capitalize, and they have done just that. 

San Jose now faces elimination Thursday when the series returns to SAP Center for Game 5, and the Sharks' defensive effort has let the team down two games in a row. If they are going to have any chance of defeating the Knights on Thursday and keeping their playoff hopes alive, their defense can't play the way it did on Tuesday in Las Vegas. There's just no other way around it.

Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist

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AP

Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist

Tomas Hertl put on a show for the fans during the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Saturday night, but he won't be bringing the game's MVP award back with him to San Jose.

That's in large part because the Sharks center wasn't even one of the four finalists for the award.

A few minutes before Hertl scored the game-winning goal for the Pacific Division, the NHL posted a poll question on Twitter asking who the MVP of the game should be.

Keep in mind that the game was tied 4-4 at the time of the poll question. Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl, Ottawa's Anthony Duclair, Boston's David Pastrnak and Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk were the four players nominated for the award.

Hertl's game-winner was his fifth goal of the night, which led all scorers. In the Pacific Division's semifinal win over the Central Division, Hertl netted four goals, including the final three of that game.

Pastrnak won the award with 36 percent of the vote, but we're guessing Hertl would have gotten a higher percentage had he been a finalist.

After the night's festivities were over, Hertl met with the media in the dressing room and was asked if he was disappointed he didn't win All-Star Game MVP.

"No," Hertl said. "I think [Sharks assistant coach] Mike Ricci was the first one to text me that hopefully I got for him a new car, but it's all good. I'm happy we won and we won the prize, so it's exciting."

[RELATED: Hertl brings fun to skills competition]

The 11 Pacific Division players will split the $1 million prize money for winning the tournament. Before taxes, each player will take home $90,909.

If Hertl was at all privately bummed he didn't win MVP, that check he's going home with will make him feel a lot better.

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

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USATSI

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

Tomas Hertl was pretty quiet for a majority of the NHL All-Star Game Final.

But with 2:36 remaining in the final period, Hertl gave the Pacific Division a 5-4 lead with a breakaway goal.

The Pacific would hang on to beat the Atlantic Division by that same score, taking home the $1 million dollar prize.

The goal was Hertl's only marker of the All-Star Game Final, but his fifth of the night as he scored four in the semifinal game.

Despite Hertl's gaudy numbers and game-winning goal, he didn't take home the All-Star Game MVP. That went to the Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak.

Hertl will receive a hero's welcome when he returns to San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks open the second half of the season at home Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Hopefully for the Sharks, Hertl can carry the momentum into the final few months of the season.