The Vegas Golden Knights took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 5-0 victory in Game 4.
That lead is now gone.
This series is tied at 3-3 after the Sharks won back-to-back games, including the heartbreaking 2-1 double overtime win in Game 6 Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena.
That leaves us with one more game. One team will move on to the second round to take on the Colorado Avalanche, while the other will pack up their lockers, conduct their exit interviews and hit the golf course.
Every shift in tonight’s game could be the deciding factor in which team moves on and which team goes home. Every shot, every save, every play...the intensity of playoff hockey is unlike anything else in sports. Game 7’s just take that intensity to another level.
At the same time, tonight’s situation is not too complicated. The Golden Knights need to win this game. It doesn’t really matter how it happens, as long as it happens.
If the Knights lose this game, it will be a crushing defeat following a very promising start to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite being down 1-0 after the first game of the series, the Knights proceeded to win three straight. Vegas appeared poised for another deep playoff run, especially thanks to the additions of Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and especially Mark Stone. There’s still time to keep that alive, but the Sharks will just be just as hungry.
If the Sharks lose this game, it will be a very disappointing end to a season that started with San Jose being among the top Cup contenders in the league. While the Sharks showed a lot of heart and resilience to come back in this series, failing to complete the comeback is not an acceptable outcome, especially for someone like Joe Thornton, who is nearing the end of his impressive career but who still does not have the all-elusive Cup win on his resume.
Both teams have to have this one, which should make for some entertaining hockey.
The Sharks made an in-game adjustment in Game 6, moving Joonas Donskoi to the second line to play with Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl, as he did for much of the regular season. However, it appears Gustav Nyquist will at least start the game in that slot on the second line. Otherwise, both teams appear to be rolling the same lineups, though there could be adjustments closer to puck drop.
UPDATE: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is OUT. Tomas Nosek will center the fourth line, while Brandon Pirri will draw into the lineup. Donskoi is OUT, so expect Lukas Radil to fill in on the fourth line.
Here are the projected Game 7 lineups for both clubs:
Marchessault — Karlsson — Smith
Pacioretty — Stastny — Stone
Pirri — Eakin — Tuch
Carrier — Nosek — Reaves
Schmidt — Engelland
McNabb — Theodore
Merrill — Miller
Meier (#28) — Couture (#39) — Pavelski (#8)
Kane (#9) — Hertl (#48) — Nyquist (#14)
Sorensen (#20) — Thornton (#19) — Labanc (#62)
Radil (#52) — Goodrow (#23) — M. Karlsson (#68)
Vlasic (#44) — Burns (#88)
Dillon (#4) — E. Karlsson (#65)
Ryan (#47) — Braun (#61)
ICYMI, here is the preview for tonight’s game.
What’s the biggest key to tonight’s game?
This poll is closed
Getting the first goal
Other (explain in comments)