After leveling the series at two games each in San Jose, the Sharks traveled to Sin City looking to take the lead of the series.
But Marc-Andre Fleury, along with Alex Tuch, who delivered a two-goal night, thought otherwise as they held off a late San Jose surge to prevail 5-3 and push into a must-win Game 6 at SAP Center Sunday.
Three third-period goals by the Sharks looked as though they could force yet another overtime, but the ever-so-pesky Jonathan Marchessault provided the dagger late in the third with an empty-netter.
Despite the three-goal lapse late in the game, Fleury was spectacular in net, making 30 saves and stoning San Jose for two and a half periods.
San Jose had two odd-man rushes within the first five minutes. On the second, Chris Tierney entered the crease from the left but as he tried to go forehand, the veteran Fleury poke-checked Tierney, sending the puck out with his right pad.
San Jose continued to apply the pressure they established early. Just past the 10-minute mark, the Sharks had a chance to open the scoring. As Fleury tried to clear the puck behind the Vegas net, Logan Couture smashed into the boards to stop the puck. Facing a bouncing puck, Couture found Mikkel Boedker in the slot who wristed a shot but Fleury made a fantastic glove save.
Martin Jones continued to be dominant, looking like the same netminder from Game 4. Jones denied Vegas from taking an early lead with a spectacular save late int the first period when Luca Sbisa sent a shot from the point that was deflected by the stick of Ryan Carpenter in the slot. With the puck bouncing, Jones scooped the puck with his glove.
With the score even at 0-0, it looked like the game would be put on the shoulders of either Jones or Fleury. But with three seconds left in the first period, the Golden Knights netted the game’s first goal.
Vegas tacked on two more goals in the second period, increasing their lead to 3-0 and making it look as if another blowout was set to take place.
Erik Haula netted Vegas’ third of the night after receiving the puck at the goal line after it bounced off of the end boards. From a near impossible angle, Haula managed to slip the puck under Jones’ blocker as he hugged the goal post.
Not long into the third period, Tomas Hertl looked to regain momentum for San Jose. After receiving a centering pass from Boedker in the crease, Hertl tried lifting the puck into the Vegas net but Fleury would make an outstanding save with the inside of his blocker.
Immediately following the play, Theodore was called for cross-checking Hertl up high. But the San Jose power play didn’t look like much of an advantage, as William Karlsson had an opportunity on a short-handed breakaway. After the chance, Vegas denied the Sharks any chance, repeatedly sending the puck deep into the San Jose zone.
San Jose finally figured out Fleury 9:34 into the third while on the powerplay. Couture centered a pass to a wide-open Kevin Labanc in the slot who wristed a shot far-side.
Just over two minutes later, Hertl recorded his sixth goal of the playoffs when Boedker attempted a wrap-around that found its way to Hertl in the crease who lifted the puck past Fleury.
The series shifts back to San Jose Sunday, as the Sharks look to avoid elimination and force Game 7. The puck is set to drop at 5:30 p.m.