LAS VEGAS — The San Jose Sharks made it a priority to get faster following a loss in the Stanley Cup Final to Pittsburgh two years ago.
The Sharks looked awfully slow and lost at times in the 7-0 rout at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights in their second-round series opener.
Vegas outhit the Sharks, 48-33.
Vegas had 15 takeaways, San Jose had six.
Vegas blocked 26 shots, the Sharks 13.
San Jose was whistled for 10 penalties Vegas just five.
“We had a laundry list of issues,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We weren’t good, and they beat us. It’s obviously not pretty and we know we have to be better across the board.”
The Sharks don’t have much time, and maybe that’s a good thing. Game 2 is Saturday night.
San Jose won’t have forward Evander Kane, who was suspended one game for cross-checking Vegas forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the head after a whistle late in the third period Thursday night. He was sent off and Joe Pavelski went off at the same time for slashing,
In a video announcing the suspension, the NHL department of player safety said Kane’s cross-check “was not a hockey play” and served no purpose other than to strike an opponent in the head.
“I’m not a dirty player. It was just a forecheck that went into a scrum,” Kane said afterward. “I just cross-checked him in the arm and unfortunately that rolled up when he extended his arm. There was no intent and I’m glad he wasn’t hurt on the play.”
The game was out of hand by then.
Goaltender Martin Jones, who looked brilliant in the first round by allowing just four goals in a sweep of Anaheim, came into the series with a career .931 save percentage, third best ever among goalies with at least 20 playoff games. He gave up four goals in the first period alone and was pulled after allowing a fifth 3:28 into the second period.
“That was on us as a group and it wasn’t on him,” DeBoer said. “I wanted to give him enough time that he could feel ready for Saturday but at the same time, you know, not have to stand in there and get embarrassed.”
The Sharks started the series without star centre Joe Thornton, who has been out since Jan. 23 with a knee injury, and there is no timeline for his return.
The Sharks must figure out a way to solve Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 33 shots for his13th career shutout in the playoffs and third this post-season. Fleury made 17 saves in the first period alone, including 10 on the penalty kill, while his teammates were scoring at the other end. San Jose was 6 for 20 on the power play in the opening round against the Ducks but went 0-for-5 against Fleury.
“We have to be better, that’s the message they sent,” DeBoer said. “And we’ve got to respond to that.”