Vegas put together a solid game to take a 3-2 series lead over the Sharks.
In a series marked by a complete lack of momentum and even somewhat short on drama, the Vegas Knights are one game away from a trip to the conference final. Vegas was up 1-0 after one on a last-second goal at the end of the first period. They scored twice more with goals by Alex Tuch and Erik Huala to take a strong lead into the third period.
With about 11 minutes to go in the game the Sharks woke up and started applying pressure and managed to get goals by Kevin Lebanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedeker to bring it to within one goal late after Tuch made it 4-1. The comeback wasn’t enough and an empty net goal sealed the Game 5 victory for the Knights. Here are three things we learned in Game 5.
The Knights role players Tuch over the game
Alex Tuch, who at times this season has scored key goals and made big plays on the way to the record year for the Knights, was on fire. He scored two goals on the night and was streaking up the ice all night in what looked like a route early in the second period.
The role players are going to be the key to a Stanley Cup victory and whichever team’s guys step up, will likely be the team to advance. Some might argue that as an expansion team the Knights are made up of a bunch of role players. If that is the case, they were built to win in the playoffs.
Both goaltenders are playing world-class
Martin Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury have both had moments of sheer brilliance in this series. Each guy has a shut out and each has made mind-boggling saves throughout the series. Last night Fleury kept his team in a game that on paper was looking lopsided until the third period.
Jones, after coming off a superb effort in Game 4, was equally amazing and on two of the first three goals he really had no chance. Moving on to Game 5 both teams will look to their goalies to continue their outstanding playoff performances. Learning that they are human has been a motivator for both teams. It’s a matter of who makes the world-class saves at the right time that may very well decide the outcome of this series.
Technology is playing a huge role in hockey
As fans, we don’t see the team’s preparation and planning game by game. However, coaches and their support staff have the technology to see trends in real-time and make adjustments like never before.
Teams can see weakness in a line matchup and can spend entire games trying to get certain players on the ice against other players that may have deficiencies. The home teams have an advantage here, as they get the last change at home. Does it surprise anyone that all five games have been won on home ice? Looking ahead to Game 6, if this continues to hold true, we should see this go seven and Vegas should win this series.