After blowing out the Anaheim Ducks and taking eight days off, the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones opened the second round of the playoffs flat. San Jose was blown out by the Vegas Golden Knights, 7-0, in Thursday’s Game 1.
After surrendering just four goals in the entire first round, Jones matched that number facing just seven shots in the first period, and he did so in the game’s first 11:43. It wasn’t just Jones that looked flat. San Jose was not able to get anything going on offense, courtesy of Vegas’ blocking ability and a wall named Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vegas was given a man-advantage just over one minute into the opening period when Tomas Hertl was called for high-sticking on Jonathan Marchessault. Although Vegas was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, they would seconds after the powerplay ended.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the first period, Brayden McNabb sent a long shot to the right of the San Jose net, but the stick of Cody Eakin deflected the puck back toward the net and past Jones.
Eakin’s goal was just the start of the nightmare first period. Just 26 seconds after his goal, the Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead when Alex Tuch beat Logan Couture, leaving the puck for Erik Haula who zipped a wrister under the blocker of Jones.
Vegas continued its goal barrage with Marchssault and Tuch expanded the lead to 4-0.
Despite opening the second period with a great back-to-back save effort, Jones gave up his fifth goal of the game when Reilly Smith broke through two San Jose defenders and found Shea Theodore who lifted the puck past Jones.
Jones was pulled after the play, down 5-0 less than 24 minutes into the second round, replaced by back-up Aaron Dell who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.
Despite being outplayed in the first half of the first period, the Sharks controlled the second half. Forcing Fleury to make 10 saves in that stretch. San Jose’s best opportunity came when Logan Couture sent a zipping wrister from the right faceoff circle, but Fleury continued his dominance picking Couture with a fantastic glove save.
Dell’s 19-save performance was nearly perfect until four-and-a-half minutes into the third period when Marchessault found Colin Miller who sent a hard one-timer over Dell’s blocker.
The Sharks will look to bounce back from the blow-out loss Saturday as the series remains in Las Vegas for Game 2.