Jones, Sharks blank Golden Knights, even series


After a disappointing overtime loss on Monday, the Sharks rode a wave of outstanding defensive play at SAP Center Wednesday routing the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-0.

Martin Jones looked like a completely different person in net, recording 34 saves en route to a shutout against an explosive Vegas team.

After the sixth shutout in his playoff career, second this season, the San Jose net-minder called the Sharks’ Game 4 performance the most “complete game of the series:”

“We won battles on the boards. We got pucks out when we needed to and we got pucks in when we needed to. … When we make them come through us, you know, two hundred feet through all five guys, we’re a lot tougher team to play against.”

The Golden Knights had a chance to take an early nine-and-a-half minutes into the first period when Reilly Smith received the puck in the slot with no San Jose defenders in sight, but Jones was able to cut off the angle and made a huge chest save.

Just four minutes later the Sharks responded as Marcus Sörensen zipped through an empty Vegas slot with a brilliant move, faking a backhand shot before lifting the puck top-shelf past a sliding Marc-Andre Fleury.

Vegas took a crack at evening the score after Mikkel Boedker was called for interference. With 20 seconds left on the powerplay, Nate Schmidt sent a shot from the point that was deflected by James Neal. For one the few times of the night the puck made its way past Jones but it rang off the post leading to San Jose’s first of five penalty kills.

With six seconds remaining in the first period, Joonas Donskoi added to the Shark lead after traveling length of the ice. Facing two back-skating defenders, Donskoi wrested a shot through the legs of Brayden McNabb, beating Fleury top shelf.

San Jose carried the sense of urgency they established in the first over into the second. After three consecutive shots on Fleury, the Sharks received their first power play chance when Jon Merrill was called for hooking on Sörensen behind the Vegas net.

Unable to score with the man-advantage, the Sharks took a commanding 3-0 lead when Boedker attempted a wrap-around that Fleury denied with his pad. But Tomas Hertl was sitting in front of the net, taking advantage of an out-of-position Fleury poking home his fifth goal of this postseason.

Said Hertl:

“I just stayed with it and I got an empty net, I just put it in. … (Fleury’s) no superman, we can score, too. And we scored four goals, it was huge for us.”

After a Logan Couture tripping penalty with just under one minute remaining in the second period, the Golden Knights applied some pressure that had been relatively absent all game. But Jones continued to be dominant, denying Vegas on back-to-back shot attempts.

Jones made a huge save near halfway through the third period after Smith received a rebound in front of the of the San Jose net, but Jones jumped out of the crease to make a chest save.

Joe Pavelski provided the dagger 11:43 into the third period.

After the lopsided victory, head coach Pete DeBoer is already looking forward to Game 5:

“I can’t speak for (the players,) but I know we’re getting better every game. I know we’re going to get off the plane in Vegas, we’re going to play a good game it’s going to take a real good game to win in there.”

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The Sharks will look to take their first lead of the series when it shifts back to Las Vegas for game five Friday night. The puck will drop at 7 p.m.

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