Round 1, Game 4 Preview: Golden Knights look to push the Sharks to the brink of elimination
Can the Golden Knights take complete control of this series?
The Vegas Golden Knights’ second line of Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone absolutely took over Game 3.
The trio combined for 12 points, which was highlighted by Stone’s hat trick, and the San Jose Sharks simply had no answer for them.
Meanwhile, discipline and goaltending was once again an issue for the Sharks, in what was a fiery Game 3.
Heading into Game 4, San Jose will likely be looking to come back with a vengeance after they let their emotions get the better of them on Sunday.
For Vegas, the blueprint remains the same: stay out of the box, keep this game at 5-on-5 and continue to force the Sharks to defend in their own end.
With Vegas now up 2-1 in what has become a best-of-five series, Game 4 is a crucial one for the Sharks. They either tie this series up or head back to the shark tank facing elimination. With the stage set, here’s what the Golden Knights need to do in Game 4.
Continue to start fast
It took the Golden Knights only 16 seconds to capture the lead in Game 3, as Stone capitalized on an Erik Karlsson turnover right after the opening draw and raced in on a breakaway to bury a backhander past Martin Jones.
The Golden Knights have now scored first in back-to-back games in this series, and, well, you guessed it; they’re 2-0 in those games. In fact, the Knights are 8-4 when scoring first against the Sharks over the last two seasons, including both in the regular season and playoffs. Clearly, it’s an advantage and something Vegas should look to do once again tonight.
Control the pace
The Sharks’ inability to stay disciplined was obviously a major factor in Game 3. Vegas had a whopping six power plays and converted on two of them.
However, despite the barrage of power play opportunities, you could argue it was the onslaught of chances the Knights created off the rush that allowed them to control Game 3.
According to The Point, Vegas generated 12 rush scoring chances in Game 3, three of which came from Stone.
The number that stands out in this 6-3 Vegas win....— The Point (@ThePointHockey) April 15, 2019
12 scoring chances off the rush compared to just 1 for San Jose.
Mark Stone with the hat-trick (all 3 goals off the rush) as Vegas take a 2-1 series lead. #VegasBorn #SJSharks #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/Of0Ua9kagn
Part of this stems from the Golden Knights’ relentless forecheck that has been giving the Sharks fits, but a lot of the rush chances in Game 3 came from the Golden Knights simply controlling the pace of play.
If Vegas can keep controlling the pace of play at 5-on-5, the Sharks could be in a lot of trouble heading back to San Jose for Game 5.
Keep the pressure on Martin Jones
Jones was once again a tire fire in Game 3, allowing six goals on 40 shots. His goals-against average for the series now sits at a robust 4.53, while his save percentage is .848.
Although his numbers are terrible, it’s the timing of the goals he’s allowing (Jones has allowed a goal in the opening minute of back-to-back games) and the way he seems to be fighting the puck that has to have the Sharks concerned. I mean, look at some of the rebounds he gave up during Game 3.
GOAL. Mark Stone nets his second of the night to make it 5-1. pic.twitter.com/n4QEqd8pVR— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 15, 2019
Vegas nearly gets another one. pic.twitter.com/SIDgUVtkBY— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 15, 2019
Yes, Jones is not getting much help on some of these goals, but does he actually look like a serviceable goalie right now? It’s debatable.
How to watch
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: NBCSN, AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM