It wasn’t always pretty, as San Jose was the better team through the first two periods, but Vegas made the most of its offensive opportunities, took care of business with a dominant effort in the third period and, most significantly, reaped the rewards of an outstanding performance by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury made 28 saves en route to recording his 15th career postseason shutout and first of the 2019 playoffs.
Max Pacioretty also had a stellar night, scoring two goals and coming away with a game-high four points. Mark Stone also had another multi-point game; he and Pacioretty are now tied with a league-high 10 points in the playoffs.
The Sharks came out strong, testing Fleury with several solid scoring chances in the first minute of the game, but it was Vegas that once again pulled off some early heroics.
Pacioretty picked up a drop pass from Stone in the offensive zone and ripped one past Martin Jones to give the Knights a 1-0 lead just 1:11 into the opening frame.
GOAL. Max Pacioretty scores just over a minute into the game. pic.twitter.com/CxW95N52kp— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 17, 2019
It was the sixth time in seven periods that Vegas scored a goal in the first two minutes of the frame.
Fleury proceeded to keep the Knights in the game, stopping all 18 shots thrown his way as the Sharks poured on the chances throughout the period, which featured five combined penalties between the two teams.
Pretty crazy that the NHL allows Vegas to have a brick wall as their goalie. pic.twitter.com/4m9RMdQMTh— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 17, 2019
But Shea Theodore scored an absolute beauty of a goal in the final minute of the frame, splitting the San Jose defensemen and beating Jones on a gorgeous deke to give Vegas a stunning 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.
GOAL. Shea Theodore scores an absolutely FILTHY goal to make it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/kwROSkkwDt— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 17, 2019
Aaron Dell replaced Jones to start the second, and San Jose continued to dominate. However, Pacioretty scored the only goal of the period on a Vegas power play to give the Knights a 3-0 lead.
GOAL. Aaron Dell makes a big save on Pacioretty, but the puck flies right back to Patches and he makes it 3-0. pic.twitter.com/zCN7gQtrhi— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 17, 2019
Dell made a strong save on the initial shot, but the puck came right back to Pacioretty, who notched his second of the game.
Even though the Knights held a three-goal lead through 40 minutes, San Jose was still very much in the game. But in the third period, Vegas took over.
Ultimately, the Knights outshot San Jose 13-2 and managed a 72.73 Corsi For percentage in the final 20 minutes of action, adding two more goals along the way.
Alex Tuch potted the true insurance goal 6:37 into the third, making a brilliant move to beat Dell and score his first of the playoffs.
No Sharks goalie is safe. pic.twitter.com/IGQeYd4SDx— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 17, 2019
Jonathan Marchessault made it 5-0 on a late power play for his first of the playoffs.
The Knights have now scored at least one power-play goal in every game of this series, which should not be underestimated given how inconsistent the Knights’ power play performed throughout the year.
However, Vegas took three penalties in the first period alone, which could have been a disaster if not for Fleury. The Knights took just one more minor for the rest of the game and stayed out of the box entirely in the third period, but the Knights got away with several penalties, so discipline remains a concern.
The Knights are one win away from advancing to the second round, but they’ll have to deliver a more complete 60-minute effort in Game 5 in order to do so.
Tonight was one of those games where the advanced stats and the final score didn’t exactly add up, as evidenced by the Corsi Chart below.
But good goaltending goes a long way, and tonight’s game was a perfect example of that.
The heat map from the first two periods (below) shows quite clearly that San Jose got to the high-danger areas, not Vegas. However, Fleury was the difference-maker.
At the end of the day, the scoreboard is what counts, and Vegas was the clear winner in that department.
The Knights will have a chance to wrap things up Thursday night in Game 5 as the series shifts back to San Jose.