SAN JOSE -- Monday’s Sharks-Golden Knights showdown was billed as a hard-hitting matchup and boy, it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, things did not swing in the home team’s favor and San Jose dropped their third game of the season against Vegas, 7-3.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:
The Sharks struggled without Joe Pavelski
San Jose was without their captain for the first time this season, as was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. With their top goal-scorer out, the Sharks needed all their skaters to step up to the challenge and make up for his absence. While they scored three good-looking goals -- two of those markers coming from Logan Couture -- and made a really nice push late in the game, not enough of their grade-A chances found the back of the net.
The Sharks also got into a lot of penalty trouble. Vegas is the type of team that is really good at making their opponents pay for making little mistakes, and they were able to wear San Jose down by sending them to the penalty box six times in the first two periods alone.
The Knights survived without Marc-Andre Fleury
San Jose had an opportunity to jump on Vegas with their star netminder out of the lineup. Fleury has unmistakably been the Knights’ best player all season, and a big reason why the Sharks got shut out in their first trip to T-Mobile Arena earlier this season. But backup goaltender Malcolm Subban stood his ground and was able to minimize the damage San Jose tried to create.
Subban also had a lot of help in front of him. Vegas was very good creating barriers around him and clogging up the lanes, making even the Sharks’ best efforts moot.
Was this an accurate playoff preview?
Not exactly. Remember, both teams are missing key players because of injury. So Monday’s game probably wasn’t the best example of how these teams could matchup up if they end up playing each other in Round 1.
That being said, we got a pretty darn good look at how contentious a playoff series between these two teams would be. The Golden Knights have quickly become one of the Sharks’ biggest rivals, and all games between the two teams have gotten vicious. (Heck, Micheal Haley tried to pull Ryan Reaves off the bench to fight, for pete’s sake.) If these two teams meet up in the postseason -- a time when the refs typically let more hits slide -- it could end up being a blood bath.
SAN JOSE – Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is classifying Joe Pavelski as day-to-day after the captain sustained a scary injury during San Jose's Game 7 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Pavelski left Game 7 at the 9:13 mark of the third period after getting cross-checked off a faceoff by Cody Eakin and falling to the ice and hitting his head. No. 8 was bleeding profusely and had to be helped off the ice by a few of his teammates with a towel being held to his head. DeBoer wouldn’t specify exactly what Pavelski’s ailment was, but said the top-line forward was “feeling the effects” of the injury and likely won’t be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Sharks' second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.
“It could’ve been worse, you could’ve been dealing with a fractured skull,” DeBoer told the media after Thursday’s morning skate. “Thankfully, we weren’t.”
Pavelski did not take the ice for practice Thursday, although the press was told he was in the building.
Teammates Melker Karlsson and Tim Heed were also missing from practice Thursday morning. Joonas Donskoi, who missed Game 7 against the Knights with an unspecified injury, skated in a non-contact orange sweater early Thursday morning but left the ice before practice got underway. Micheal Haley returned to practice for the first time since sustaining an injury during Game 3 against the Knights.
When questioned about the status of players missing from practice, DeBoer chalked it up to the team being banged-up just like every other team still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.
“Like anybody this time of year, we have a lot of game-time decisions,” DeBoer said.
[RELATED: NHL apologizes to Vegas for mistake on major penalty call]
The Sharks will open up their second-round series against the Avalanche at SAP Center on Friday.
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes the five-minute major penalty that changed the course of Game 7 between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights was a bad call, and it turns out the league agrees.
Golden Knights general manager George McPhee told reporters Thursday that the NHL called and apologized to him for the call on Cody Eakin during the third period of Tuesday's decisive game.
"The league did reach out and apologize," McPhee said, via The Las Vegas Review-Journal. "They made a mistake, and I'm sure [the officials] feel bad about it. They want to get things right like we all do when we're doing our jobs."
The five-minute major for a dangerous hit on Joe Pavelski opened the floodgates for the Sharks. Down 3-0 when Eakin went to the box, San Jose scored four goals on the ensuing power play to take a one-goal lead. The Sharks eventually won in overtime on Barclay Goodrow's series-clinching goal.
After the game, Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault ripped the refs for their "embarrassing call," saying they helped the Sharks "steal" Game 7.
Up until that point in the series, the Sharks were 4 for 29 on the power play, but Vegas' penalty-killing unit couldn't stop Team Teal from erasing a three-goal deficit in a four-minute span. Vegas can complain all it wants, but eventually, the Golden Knights have to look in the mirror.
That being said, giving up four goals in four minutes is a tough pill to swallow, but having the league admit it blew the call is just pouring salt in the wound.
There's also this: The NHL Department of Hockey Operations announced that referees Dan O'Halloran and Eric Furlatt, who were on the ice for the call, will not officiate in the second playoff round, per ESPN. O'Hallaron leads all active NFL refs with 212 playoff games worked, ESPN noted.
[RELATED: Sharks' Game 7 win joins greatest comebacks in Bay Area sports history]
The Sharks now will face the Colorado Avalanche, with Game 1 slated for Friday night at SAP Center.