POINT OF SCORE
If seeing the Sharks losing Game 3 in their first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was painful for the fans, watching Game 4 was simply frustrating.
San Jose beat the Golden Knights in Las Vegas on Tuesday, but now the Sharks face elimination after a 5-0 loss in Game 4. Some changes in the lineup gave life to the team, but the puck did not bounce on your way, or Stay out of your network.
Here are three key points for the Sharks to lose 3-1 in the series.
Fleury on fire
It simply can not be denied. The Sharks could have had an advantage over the Golden Knights at the end of the first period with how hard they were working offensively. The four new San Jose fashion lines were pushing to find the back of the network, showing no abandonment or abandonment.
But Fleury, who the San Jose offense was able to frustrate so well in Game 1, simply did not give in. Even before he stopped Evander Kane on a getaway opportunity in the second period, it was clear that he was defending the fact of being the first star at night.
Fleury's defense also did its part to stop the Sharks' best attempts to enter the board. Even though San Jose did a good job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and continued to push, Vegas' defensive effort added to Fleury's magnificent performance by blocking 18 shots in the night.
Even when the Sharks were able to get around the Las Vegas defense, they could not find a way to score. On the other side of the ice, however …
There is no help between the pipes.
Shark fanatics might have been tempted to breathe a sigh of relief when goalkeeper Martin Jones did not allow the first goal of the game in the first minute of the first period, until Max Pacioretty put the Knights in 11 seconds after he finished. San Jose's offense moved at the other end to try to get the equalizer, beating Vegas 18-7 in the first period.
But, the Knights scored the next goal, taking a 2-0 lead in the second period. It could be said that it was the goal that changed the game, and it was not a big surprise when Aaron Dell badumed the duties between the pipes from the second stanza.
The Sharks defense should not have allowed Shea Theodore to maneuver their way through the Sharks area 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 were not 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 delivered in the last three games, within the first five minutes of the period or otherwise, we wonder if DeBoer decides to start Dell on the network when the series returns to San Jose for Game 5 on next. Thursday.
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The defensive effort is not doing it.
San Jose has had to fill in the bodies for the injured players, but it was evident that in Game 4 they still miss Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Actually, the great defensive problems of the Sharks began in Game 2 after Vlasic left after being hit by a shot by Shea Theodore.
It has not helped that Erik Karlsson has not looked healthy since Game 3, nor that sharks have had many turnovers since the series switched to Sin City. The poor management of the disc has given the Knights many opportunities to capitalize, and they have done just that.
San Jose now faces elimination on Thursday when the series returns to the SAP Center for Game 5, and the Sharks' defensive effort has left the team in two straight games. If they are going to have any chance of defeating the Knights on Thursday and keeping their playoff hopes alive, their defense can not play like it did on Tuesday in Las Vegas. There is simply no other way to avoid it.