The San Jose Sharks have two glaring problems to fix if they hope to leave Las Vegas after Tuesday night's Game 4 of their first-round best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series with a crucial split of their two road games with the Vegas Golden Knights.
One is surviving the first minute of each period without surrendering a goal.
The other is somehow finding a way to slow down the Golden Knights' so-called "second line" of Mark Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty.
Vegas, which takes a 2-1 series lead into Tuesday night's contest, became just the second team in NHL history to score an opening-minute goal in each period of a postseason game in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Sharks, joining the 1981 Boston Bruins, who did it against the Minnesota North Stars.
The Golden Knights scored 16 seconds into the game on a goal by Stone, the fastest playoff goal in the team's short history. Stastny opened the second period with a goal at the 21-second mark and Stone notched a score 36 seconds into the third period.
Cody Eakin also scored 58 seconds into Vegas' 5-3 win in Game 2 on Friday in San Jose while Stone had a power play goal at the 1:31 mark of the second period. So, the Golden Knights have scored a goal in the first 91 seconds in five of the last six periods.
"We've really stressed since Game 1 (that) we need to have good starts to periods and good starts to games," said Stone, who had the first hat trick in his career in Sunday's win. "It's so important. You want to make sure you're playing with a lead. It's a lot harder to come back, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs."
The perspective is less sunny for San Jose.
"Thirty seconds into each period, we give up a goal," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "You got your best players on the ice starting the period, that's on that group to make sure we are ready to not give that up. It's not like it's a mismatch of line changes. It's best against best and you've got to get it done."
Sharks forward Joe Pavelski agreed.
"We need to be better there, and it wasn't just the first, it was each period here tonight," Pavelski said. "We start to get our momentum and it's tough to keep it going or get it back when you do that stuff."
Stone and Stastny both had five points in Sunday night's victory while Pacioretty added a goal and an assist. That line has combined for 10 goals and 22 points in the first three games with Stone leading the way with six goals and two assists.
"They've beaten us up here this series so far," DeBoer admitted. "We haven't had an answer for them."
Added Pavelski: "They're feeling it right now so it's on us to kind of do our job to shut them down a little better."
San Jose, which lost defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to an upper body injury in Game 2, also will be without forward Joe Thornton and could be without forward Micheal Haley for Tuesday's game.
DeBoer said Vlasic and Haley, who left Sunday's game after getting hit in the ankle while blocking a shot, are both day-to-day.
Thornton drew a one-game suspension from the NHL's Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of Tomas Nosek in Sunday's loss.
--Field Level Media
Sharks hope to even series against Golden Knights
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