The Vegas Golden Knights are undefeated no more in postseason play.
After being blown out 7-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series, the San Jose Sharks returned to T-Mobile Arena Saturday night and made up for their inauspicious start to the series by besting Vegas 4-3 in double overtime.
Defenseman Brent Burns led the Sharks with three points on the night, including a pair of goals that helped San Jose earn its very first lead of the series. Vegas forward William Karlsson had a pretty admirable performance of his own, scoring both of the Golden Knights’ first two tallies. Unfortunately, Karlsson’s two-goal night wasn’t enough to lift Vegas past the undaunted Sharks.
As always, let’s review what we learned. And we’ll start off with the hot topic of conversation.
1. Controversial call costs Vegas a would-be overtime goal
With just three minutes remaining in the game’s first overtime, Jonathan Marchessault backhanded a loose puck past Sharks netminder Martin Jones to seemingly give Vegas the 4-3 victory and a 2-0 series lead. However, the goal was reviewed for goaltender interference and it was determined that Marchessault had illegally made contact with Jones prior to scoring the goal. Marchessault’s tally was disallowed and play resumed, eventually leading to Logan Couture’s game-winner in the second overtime.
Before getting your pitchforks out, though, let’s take another look at the goal that could’ve been for Vegas.
Golden Knights’ game-winner called back for goalie interference pic.twitter.com/RsypDHG4PC— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 29, 2018
From this view, it’s clear that Marchessault did indeed make contact with Jones. Marchessault was outside of the crease, but made enough contact that it impaired Jones’ ability to defend the goal.
That said, Brenden Dillon’s role on the play cannot be ignored. From this overhead angle, it appears that Dillon had propelled Marchessault into Jones to some degree. And if he did in fact assist Marchessault in making contact with Jones, he did a hell of a job making it look incidental.
At the end of the day, though, Marchessault’s disallowed goal wasn’t what lost Vegas the game. It was what occurred long before the game even went beyond regulation.
2. Vegas’ lack of discipline a concern
One of the easiest ways to lose a hockey game is to take an abundant amount of penalties, and that was a major issue for the Golden Knights in Game 2.
At the end of the night, Vegas had been assessed over a period’s worth of penalty minutes (22), giving the sharks a total of seven opportunities on the man advantage. And San Jose took advantage of Vegas’ missteps by scoring twice while on the power play — one of those goals coming early in the second period just after Vegas had taken a two-goal lead.
After the game, Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant made it clear that the Knights’ lack of discipline wasn’t something he was very thrilled about.
“Well, I wasn’t too happy with a lot of it to be honest with you,” Gallant said after the game. “We had one power play, that one they flipped into the stands, and they had seven. I wasn’t too happy.”
Strangely enough, Vegas finished the regular season as one of the NHL’s least penalized teams. Why they’re suddenly taking an inordinate amount of penalties is beyond anyone’s knowledge, but it’s clear that they won’t win many playoff games shorthanded.
3. No Kane, no problem
The Knights had a golden opportunity to take a two-game series lead in the absence of Sharks forward Evander Kane, but they simply couldn’t deliver.
Despite Kane being out of the lineup for the Sharks, San Jose’s other star players such as Burns (two goals, three points), Joe Pavelski (two assists) and Logan Couture (two goals) all stepped up and put together solid performances to help even the series.
Since being traded to the Sharks, Kane registered nine goals and 14 points in 17 regular season games and has also logged four points (three goals) in five playoff games for San Jose. A win with Kane out of the lineup would have been ideal for Vegas, but now they head to San Jose with one of the Sharks’ top point producers back in the fold.
4. Marc-Andre Fleury human in Game 2
There may not be another goaltender playing as well as Fleury right now. The 33-year-old has already logged three shutouts while sporting a .967 save percentage and a 1.00 goals against average in six playoff games. And if that trend continues, he could be in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy (assuming Vegas gets back on track, of course).
However, Fleury looked human Saturday night. The Sharks peppered Fleury with 47 shots in Game 2 with four of those shots getting past him. Still not bad considering the high volume of rubber being thrown his way, but this certainly wasn’t Fleury’s best showing of the postseason.
That’s not to say he didn’t come up with some big stops, though.
5. Vegas played poorly and still nearly won the game
Despite taking a ridiculous amount of penalties and being largely outplayed by San Jose, let’s not forget that Vegas almost won this thing. The series is tied at one game apiece and Vegas is just a couple days removed from absolutely obliterating this Sharks team.
It may feel much worse than it actually is, but this is a whole new series. Yes, the next two games are in San Jose, but that shouldn’t matter too much, as Vegas has proven to be a solid team on the road. While losing Game 2 certainly doesn’t feel great, it’s not as if Vegas is down two games to zero. The Knights are more than capable of getting back to what made them so good in Game 1 and, of course, this series is far from over.