The Vegas Golden Knights tamed the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 to take a commanding 3-2 series lead. They’ll now head back to California on Sunday to try and finish this one off. Check below for our full recap and highlights.
The Vegas Golden Knights keep doing what so many deemed impossible. At this point, we should all stop treating them like cuddly bear cubs new to the NHL world and more like the team that’s a win away from being a Western Conference Final opponent. That’s exactly the scenario now after Vegas took care of the San Jose Sharks 5-3 on Friday.
We aren’t foolish enough to believe the Sharks don’t have a comeback in them, as they almost pulled one off here. They can certainly go into Game 6 at home with a fire more reminiscent to Game 4 than to what we witnessed tonight early on. But they have a lot of areas to fix.
For one, Vegas clearly isn’t phased by San Jose being physical. The Sharks came out with the intent to knock some bodies around, only to find themselves down 1-0 on a James Neal goal right before the end of the first period. It’s another example of skill overtaking brawn. If a team adjusts the way Vegas did from its 4-0 loss on Wednesday, you have to offer more than hitting.
You also have to offer a better penalty kill. The Golden Knights went up 2-0 in the second period on another powerplay score by Alex Tuch. That’s six for Vegas on 23 chances so far in this series. That has to change. There is way too much chasing the puck when down a man by San Jose. Take a look at the goal by Tuch and you’ll see what we mean.
There’s being aggressive, and then there’s looking like puppies chasing cars. Also, stop leaving players wide open. Vegas went up 3-0 because Erik Haula was left to roam free, which happened a lot. Granted, Haula’s goal was from an insane angle and shouldn’t have gone in, this can’t continue Sunday. At least, not if San Jose has designs on sending this to Game 7.
Midway through the third frame, Tuch would get himself another one before Kevin LaBanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Bodker actually made this a game at 4-3. The effort came way too late, though. Vegas might have simply let its foot off the gas after going up big in the third and San Jose took advantage. This game offered a lesson for both clubs. We’ll see what transpires next time out.
1: Alex Tuch: Tuch popped two for Vegas, and he was like a ghost that San Jose couldn’t find all night. On his second, the Golden Knights were able to break out with speed and the Sharks again let him pretty much do whatever he wanted. On the San Jose end, the effort was minimal. Let’s hope Tuch heats up in Game 7.
2: James Neal: A couple of Vegas guys could have gone here, like David Perron or Jonathan Marchessault, but we’re giving the nod to Neal. He, like Tuch, had a fantastic game tonight. He only scored one goal, but he was around the puck all night, he created chance after chance, and the Sharks seemed to have no answer for him or for Vegas’ fast break game. The Golden Knights still need more from him, but it was a nice game to help his club take a series lead.
3: Marc-Andre Fleury. Vegas hounded San Jose so often in the offensive zone that he didn’t exactly have to stand on his head constantly early, though he did have some mind-bending stops late in the game, and then he gave up three goals late so we had to move him from the first star to the third. But when you put your team up 3-2 with a chance to move to the Western Conference Finals, that deserves some love.
Sunday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. EST @ San Jose