Overtime playoff hockey is like nothing else in sports. It’s exhilarating and exhausting, and every moment carries potential season-altering consequences. Game 2 between the Sharks and Golden Knights featured a series-altering call that some will question, though it’s not the only reason Vegas lost a wild contest that reached double overtime and lasted more than eighty-five minutes.
Though Vegas showed a lot of heart forcing extra time and getting numerous quality chances in overtime after getting largely outplayed in regulation, discipline was a major factor throughout the game. In fact, the Knights took 22 minutes of penalties, and San Jose went 2-for-7 on the man advantage.
In the end, discipline is what cost Vegas in Game 2.
The Knights took back-to-back penalties early in double overtime, which set up Logan Couture’s game-winning power-play goal just 5:13 into the second overtime period.
Before that, though, it appeared as though Jonathan Marchessault had won the game for Vegas at 16:58 of the first overtime.
However, it was determined that Marchessault interfered with Sharks netminder Martin Jones prior to the puck entering the net. There was certainly contact on the play, though it’s a disappointing result for Vegas.
Here is the explanation from the NHL. They saw Marchessault make contact with Jones' blocker, which I did not see. pic.twitter.com/WnxUyFVWdK— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) April 29, 2018
In any case, the call overturned a goal that not only would have given Vegas a 4-3 overtime win but also a 2-0 series lead.
But the Knights were fortunate to even be in the game at that point of the contest since San Jose outplayed them for most of the night.
If not for Marc-Andre Fleury, this game could have been a very lopsided affair.
Fleury stopped 43 of 47 shots and finished the game with a .915 save percentage, though those numbers don’t reflect the countless outstanding saves he made to keep Vegas in the game, including several jaw-dropping ones in overtime.
He even went back to his go-to stick-puck-glove juggle move to keep things interesting.
I mean whatever works pic.twitter.com/pdCEGEepxZ— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) April 29, 2018
Jones made some spectacular saves as well, including this highway robbery on James Neal.
The fact that Vegas had glorious chances after fighting back from a 3-2 deficit in the third period and came close to ending it in overtime makes San Jose’s series-tying win a tough pill to swallow for the Knights.
But San Jose deserves credit for a gutsy performance.
The Sharks entered Game 2 with a rather large chip on their shoulders after suffering an ugly 7-0 loss in Game 1. Plus, they were without Evander Kane, who was serving his one-game suspension after cross-checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in Game 1. The Sharks were able to bounce back in a big way and pick up a crucial win to tie the series, which is especially impressive after they found themselves trailing despite dominating possession in the first period.
Vegas leads, but San Jose dominated possession throughout the first third. pic.twitter.com/vVnOrxmWVW— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 29, 2018
William Karlsson forced a turnover in the Sharks’ zone and capitalized on a favorable bounce off the back boards on a point shot by Colin Miller. Wild Bill put the puck past Jones from a crazy angle at 17:59 of the first, giving Vegas a 1-0 lead.
GOAL!!!! William Karlsson gives Vegas the lead!! pic.twitter.com/0HzARA5COy— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 29, 2018
Karlsson scored his second of the night just 26 seconds into the second period to give Vegas a surprising 2-0 lead.
GOAL!!!! William Karlsson scores his second of the night just 26 seconds into the middle period! pic.twitter.com/SN26x3iWGz— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 29, 2018
However, San Jose would not be denied, scoring three unanswered goals in the middle frame.
The Sharks took advantage of a lot of unnecessary matching minors and minor penalties initiated/taken by Vegas, scoring all four of its goals at 5-on-4 or 4-on-4 play.
The Sharks scored just four seconds into a David Perron minor penalty for their first of the series, ending Fleury’s shutout streak at 144:04. Brent Burns, who played very well against Vegas during the regular season, cut the Knights’ lead in half at the two-minute mark of the second.
That didn't take long. Brent Burns scores San Jose's first goal of the series just seconds into the power play. pic.twitter.com/0kK3gqsKBp— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 29, 2018
A little over nine minutes later, Fleury made a rare gaffe by deciding to keep the play alive instead of freezing the puck. This led to San Jose’s game-tying tally at 11:08 of the second as Couture scored on a one-timer from the slot.
Burns scored his second of the period on a wraparound goal off an offensive-zone faceoff win by Joe Pavelski. It was the second of three goals to be scored under those circumstances in the game.
Vegas challenged the play for goaltender interference, but Miller clearly pushed Sharks forward Timo Meier into Fleury, which prevented him from beating Burns to the far post. It would be the first of two goaltender interference calls that would go against the Knights.
However, Vegas struck late in the third to tie the game at 3-3 when Nate Schmidt scored off an offensive-zone faceoff win by Perron.
GOAL!!!! Nate Schmidt scores right off the faceoff! pic.twitter.com/neNkVbJ8me— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 29, 2018
Despite a lot of juicy opportunities in overtime, Vegas was unable to convert and missed a major opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead against a team missing one of its best offensive players in Kane.
While Vegas certainly didn’t outplay San Jose, this game was there for the taking, which is what makes the outcome so crushing for a franchise that had yet to experience a loss in postseason play.
But now it’s Vegas’ turn to bounce back from a disappointing result. The Knights will have a chance to do so as the best-of-seven series will shift to San Jose for Game 3 Monday night.