Golden Knights take Stanley Cup playoff series on Sharks

Big Vegas weekend features Golden Knights games, Cinco de Mayo celebrations and more

Big Vegas weekend features Golden Knights games, Cinco de Mayo celebrations and more

The Las Vegas Golden Knights have been shocking people all year long, and they did it again on Sunday night, taking out the San Jose Sharks to advance to the Western Conference Final.

In this May 2, 2018 photo, Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) is escorted to the penalty box during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Boston. The Golden Knights were outplayed in the first period, then outplayed to start the third despite leading 2-0.

The type of pressure the Sharks had been able to create over the previous three games, when they combined for 123 shots on goal, mostly disappeared in the first two periods when the Sharks only lightly tested Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who finished with 27 saves.

From a spectacular glove save on Mikkel Boedker's point blank shot in the first period, to a pair of back-to-back saves before and after being knocked into the goal midway through the second period, or an incredible pad save on Tomas Hertl early in the third, Fleury was dialed in from the start.

"It's not over yet", he told reporters. Jones and the Sharks were dismissed from the postseason after this elimination game loss, but San Jose just ran into a buzzsaw and they exchanged haymakers with a good team. Vegas had outscored the opposition 7-1 in the first period through its first seven games this postseason.

He may be on to something. In Game 4 on Wednesday in northern California, Martin Jones made 34 saves for his sixth career playoff shutout in San Jose's 4-0 win. "I think they came out hard and better than we did and then Marcus scored and Joonas' goal was big as well", Couture said.

"We competed harder all over the ice", Couture said. "Tonight, whether we thought it was going to be easy or what we thought I don't know, but we didn't show up to play our game".

While the Sharks have plenty of playoff-tested veterans in Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Logan Couture (three assists in Game 5), Hertl joins that group. He had a solid series in picking up three goals and five points in the six games. The home team has also been on the winning side in six of the nine meetings between the Golden Knights and Sharks.

"We made ourselves a good team", Fleury said.

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Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring, and Nate Schmidt added an insurance goal that was only detectable by replay. "It's all about the next game and it's where our focus has to be", said Fleury, who needs one win to become the 10th goaltender in National Hockey League history with 70 playoff victories.

Next up for Fleury and Vegas will be the Western Conference Final against either Winnipeg or Nashville.

He turned 33 on November 28 and played better than ever in the regular season.

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"If you are going to be eliminated or not, you don't want to do it leaving your best game in the bag, so to speak", he said Saturday.

"He gives us confidence", Haula said. We feel that we've done it all year.

"The other night we played okay, but it wasn't good enough to win".

A major reason why his numbers declined so significantly in the series is that the Knights generated a plethora of quality-scoring chances with their speed. "They're a unsafe team when you give them that".

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