Two days after opening the second round with their worst game of the playoffs Malik Jefferson Color Rush Jersey , the San Jose Sharks responded with a gritty performance.
Logan Couture’s second goal of the game, on the power play at 5:13 of the second overtime, lifted the Sharks to a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night, tying their Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
Moments after Vegas’ Jon Merrill was called for hooking, Couture found the back of the net to give the Sharks their first win inside T Mobile Arena this season.
”I thought we were better everywhere,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. ”We were tighter, our team game was better, we were better in every situation, and I knew we would be.”
San Jose rallied from two goals down in the second period to take the lead, before Vegas tied it in the third.
”We were down by two, but our game was good,” DeBoer said. ”Like I said going in, as long as our game is good – even if we lost tonight – I think we’ve always taken the approach that if we play our game, at the end of the day good things happen. We stuck with it and even when they scored the second goal I really liked how we were playing.”
Vegas lost for the first time in the playoffs after winning their first five games by a 14-3 margin, including a 7-0 victory in Game 1.
The Golden Knights thought they won this one in the first overtime when Jonathan Marchessault’s backhand sailed past Martin Jones with 3:02 left, but officials ruled there was goaltender interference when Marchessault ran into Jones’ blocker and spun him around before his shot.
Per the NHL: ”After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referee, the Situation Room determined that contact between Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault and Jones prevented him from his job, in accordance with Rule 78.7.”
Brent Burns also scored two goals and Jones stopped 26 shots for San Jose Chris Rusin Colorado Rockies Jersey , which was playing without suspended forward Evander Kane.
”We fixed some things and it was a better team game,” Burns said. ”It’s just one game, obviously we had to win it, but it’s one game.”
William Karlsson scored twice for Vegas, while Nate Schmidt got his first of the postseason to tie the score at 3-3 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 43 saves.
Game 3 is Monday night at San Jose.
”We competed harder all over the ice,” Couture said. ”We were harder on pucks, we won more battles. I think when you’re creating offensive chances and you’re forcing other teams to play defensive hockey, that’s when penalties happen. They get tired and you wear them down.”
Unlike the first game of this series, which saw the Golden Knights become the third NHL franchise to score at least seven goals in a playoff game during its inaugural season, Game 2 was much more physical, something that seemingly took Vegas out of its rhythm in the second period.
In Game 1, Vegas blocked 26 shots, to the Sharks’ 13, but San Jose held a 36-26 edge in Game 2. And after being whistled for 10 penalties in first series-opener, as opposed to Vegas’ five, the Golden Knights found themselves in the box more than San Jose, 11-6.
”I wasn’t too happy with a lot of it to be honest with you,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. ”I think we had one penalty and they had seven Cheap Shaquem Griffin Jersey , so I wasn’t too happy. They better be ready (for Game 3) because we didn’t show up for 45 minutes tonight. … We played a great game the other night and competed and battled. 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.”
The Golden Knights got on the board late in the first period when Karlsson took a rebound off the end boards and found the back of the net from a tight angle. He notched his second goal when he took advantage of a turnover and beat Jones from the circle to put Vegas up 2-0 just 26 seconds into the second.
Burns brought an end to the Sharks’ 82-minute scoring drought when he picked up the puck off the draw and blasted a slap shot from the point to cut Vegas’ lead in half.
Couture tied the game at 2 with a goal that conceivably could have been avoided. After blocking a shot by Dylan Demelo, Fleury pushed the puck to Deryk Engelland behind the net, rather than covering it up. Tomas Hertl got ahold of it and fed Couture, who one-timed in with just under nine minutes left in the second.
Three minutes later, Burns gave San Jose a 3-2 lead after he snagged the puck off a faceoff, circled the back of the net and tucked it in on a wraparound.
NOTES: Burns’ second-period goal ended Fleury’s scoreless streak of 143:51, dating back to Game 3 of the opening round versus Los Angeles. … Vegas surpassed its season-high 13 penalties in minutes with 22 PIM. … The 18,671 in attendance was a new team record at T Mobile Arena. … Kane was suspended Friday because of a cross-check to the head of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in Game 1. … It was the second straight series the Golden Knights went into double overtime in Game 2, with their opponent missing a key player due to suspension. Los Angeles was missing Drew Doughty in the opening round.
Chris Paul has a long history of playoff heartbreak.
So does James Harden.
And Mike D’Antoni has more than either of them combined.
Separately, they’ve never gotten it done at playoff time. Together, their fortunes might change. They’ve led the Houston Rockets to the NBA’s best record going into these playoffs, and in a league that Golden State and Cleveland have dominated in recent years, it may not be overly surprising to see the Paul-Harden-D’Antoni triumvirate win it all this spring.
With two regular-season games left, the Rockets have already piled up a franchise-record 64 wins to secure the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But this group – perhaps fueled by past playoff shortcomings – knows it has much more work to do.
”The ultimate goal is holding that trophy up,” Harden said. ”So until we do that there’s no celebrations … we haven’t done anything yet.”
D’Antoni, who’ll turn 67 next month and would be the oldest coach to win an NBA title if Houston gets it done Authentic Jake Guentzel Jersey , has revived his career in Houston. He got the Rockets to the West semifinals in his first year with them last season. And on the eve of these playoffs, D’Antoni insists he won’t spend a second thinking about all the times things went wrong in his previous postseason trips.
”Zero,” he said when asked how much he thinks about his playoff failures. ”Twenty-nine teams look back every year. It’s hard to win.”
D’Antoni might know that better than most.
In 2004-05, his Phoenix Suns won 62 games in the regular season and reached the conference finals before losing to eventual champion San Antonio in five games. The Suns advanced to the conference finals again the following year, but were eliminated by Dallas in six games. They lost in the second round in 2007, the first round in 2008.
More failures followed in his stints with New York and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks were swept by Boston in 2011, the Lakers swept by the Spurs in 2013, both of those coming in the first round. Before last season, D’Antoni hadn’t won a playoff game in nine years.
”We’ve had a great regular season, but it doesn’t matter,” he said. ”But what it does mean is that we’re pretty good and if we make big shots and do what we’re supposed to do … then we’ll see if we can do it.”
Paul’s failures in the postseason may be even more scrutinized. The nine-time All-Star, who came to Houston in an offseason trade, has made nine playoff trips without advancing past the second round. The worst of those flops came in 2015, ironically against Houston, when Paul and the Clippers had a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals. They got blown out in Game 5, wasted a 19-point second-half lead in Los Angeles in Game 6, then fell in Game 7 at Houston.
That was then, Paul said.
”It is cool when you stop and think about it Youth Kevin Hogan Jersey ,” Paul said. ”But for us right now we’re trying to enjoy the moment. Trying to enjoy the process and not worry about all that stuff. Maybe after it’s all said and done you can reflect on it.”
Harden knows playoff pain as well. His splendid 2016-17 season was so promising, especially after Houston routed San Antonio, on the road, in Game 1 of the West semifinals. The Spurs won four of the next five, including a 114-75 embarrassing series-clincher in Houston where Harden was held to 10 points.
”These last few years I’ve learned that obviously you can’t do it by yourself,” Harden said. ”You need guys to step up, make big shots, make big plays and so we have enough guys in here on any given night that can change a playoff series. So that’s what you need. That’s what puts you over the top.”
Paul might be the topper Harden needed.
From the moment Paul arrived in Houston, Harden raved about what he would bring to the team. After playing with him for a season, the normally reserved Harden was even more effusive in his praise of the fellow guard.
”I don’t mean to sound too mushy or what-not but it was like love at first sight,” Harden said. ”It was just meant to be.”
This will be Harden’s ninth playoff appearance after three trips with the Thunder and five in Houston. He’s led the Rockets to the postseason in each of his seasons in Houston, but his failure to shine in big games has dogged him for years.
Bringing a title to Houston, which hasn’t seen the Rockets hoisting a Larry O’Brien Trophy since the back-to-back crowns in 1994 and 1995, will render all those criticisms moot.
”We’re all in this together,” Harden said. ”That’s what it’s all about. We talk about it every single day. We’re in this together and if one fails we all fail. So we’re going to ride this thing out together.”