Hold off on those handshakes for at least one more game.
Tomas Hertl scored two goals and maligned goalie Martin Jones made 30 saves as the Sharks stayed alive in their Western Conference first-round playoff series with a 5-2 win over Vegas at SAP Center on Thursday night.
“We realized if we want to stick around, we had to play desperate hockey,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said after San Jose cut its deficit in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.
San Jose gets two days to rest and recharge before Game 6 in Las Vegas on Sunday.
“It’ll be the same mind-set,” Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow said. “We have to bring our ‘A’ game and come out with a win.”
Hertl scored his second goal of the game just 15 seconds into a third-period power play with an in-close shot to make it 4-2. San Jose gained the advantage after Jonathan Marchessault struck Logan Couture in the mouth with a high stick at 14:30. It appeared Couture had lost several teeth as he raced off the ice to the dressing room for repairs.
“He’s not going to have any teeth left at the rate he’s going,” Dillon said.
Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
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Sharks captain Joe Pavelski scored his second goal of the series into an empty net at 18:14 to cap the scoring.
“We played the right way,” Pavelski said. “We were more committed. We did our job tonight for once, and stuck with it. It’s a start.”
Vegas converted its second power play in two tries at 11:36 of the third to trim San Jose’s lead to a goal. With Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson off for a trip, Marchessault scored his second goal of the series with a shot from the slot that slipped between Jones’ pads. But that’s as close as Vegas got.
“We played Sharks hockey tonight, but I think we can take it to another level,” Dillon said.
The Sharks played a spirited second period, scoring the only goal, to take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The goal came from an unexpected source as defenseman Justin Braun’s shot from the right point was redirected by Goodrow past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 12:22.
“I was just trying to take away Fleury’s eyes on it and I was lucky enough to get a stick on it and it went in,” Goodrow said.
Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant elected to keep his fourth line on the ice following a stoppage and the faceoff in San Jose’s end. Not only did the Sharks win the draw, but they went right down the ice and scored a momentum-shifting goal.
After San Jose scored the first two goals in the first period, Vegas struck late in the period after carrying a majority of the play for the final 8:50 of the period.
After having allowed so many early goals in this series, the Sharks put the skate on the other foot.
Hertl got things rolling for San Jose as he fended off two trailing backcheckers and fired a shot from the left dot before on-rushing defenseman Shea Theodore could get in position to block. Fleury might have misjudged his angle as Hertl’s drive picked the far top corner just 76 seconds after the opening faceoff.
“He’s shown it before in flashes, and this year, he’s done it consistently on a nightly basis,” Pavelski said of Hertl. “When we win games, he’s usually front and center. He grabbed it tonight and took it.”
The Sharks kept the pressure on the Golden Knights for another 10 minutes before Couture cashed in for his third goal of the series at 11:00. He punched a short rebound of Timo Meier’s shot under Fleury’s right pad as the Vegas netminder was starting to move to the far post after losing sight of the puck.
San Jose fell back into defense mode for much of the rest of the period, failing to get a shot attempt following a blocked shot just 10 seconds after Couture’s goal.
The Golden Knights finally struck late in the period 1:13 into a power play awarded after Evander Kane high-sticked Reilly Smith behind the Vegas net.
Smith’s centering attempt from behind the San Jose goal line caromed off the stick of Karlsson and past Jones at 19:30 to cut San Jose’s margin in half.
Not long before the Sharks’ second-period goal, Dillon made a strong play to deny Vegas a shot attempt during a 2-on-1 — one of the few odd-man breaks the Sharks surrendered in the opening two periods.
“Everyone just looked in the mirror and tried to take it to the next level,” Dillon said.
“We showed we can beat them,” Hertl added.
Ross McKeon is a freelance writer. Twitter: @rossmckeon
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sharks/article/Sharks-in-must-win-game-top-Golden-Knights-13779798.php.