After twice failing to close out their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series, the Vegas Golden Knights now play the first Game 7 in the franchise's short history when they face the Sharks on Tuesday night in San Jose.
Vegas, despite outshooting San Jose by a remarkable 59-29 margin, will try to rebound from a 2-1 double overtime home loss on Sunday night. The Golden Knights also failed to clinch in Game 5 when they fell to the Sharks 5-2 on Thursday night in San Jose.
"We have to (put it behind us)," Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It's the playoffs, right? You win, you lose, you put it behind quickly and get ready for the next one."
The Golden Knights, who advanced to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, have played in just one elimination game in their short history and are 0-1, losing Game 5 to Washington 4-3 in the Capitals' Cup clincher at Las Vegas.
Now Vegas must bounce back in less than 48 hours after somehow dropping a game in which it outshot the Sharks by 30 combined with the double gut-punch of losing on a short-handed goal by Tomas Hertl 11:17 into the second overtime. It marked the first time in NHL history that a game-winner came on a short-handed goal in a contest that required multiple overtimes.
"Well, it's Game 7," said Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant when asked how his team could rebound after playing more than 91 physically and emotionally draining minutes. "If it wasn't Game 7, it could be really tough, but it's going to be Game 7, and I think both teams want to advance.
"Winner take all in Game 7. You get ready to play, you forget about (Sunday). It's over with now, and you move on and get ready to play the next one. ... I'm proud of our guys. The way they competed, 59 shots on net. It wasn't our night, but there is still another day for us fortunately."
The Sharks and goalie Martin Jones will try to cap a remarkable turnaround after getting outscored 16-6 in three consecutive losses in Games 2-4, two of which saw Jones get pulled. The 29-year-old netminder has rebounded to stop 88 of 91 shots the past two games, including a franchise-record 58 in the Sunday night victory.
"I thought he was fantastic tonight, but so was Fleury," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was great for (Jones). Our group has never lost faith in him. I think we knew he was capable of this, and we needed him tonight and he was our best player."
San Jose improved to 35-0 this season when allowing two goals or fewer in a game.
Hertl, who has scored five goals in the series, including three in the past two wins, wasn't far behind. He raised more than a few eyebrows with some bulletin-board material with his postgame comments after the Game 5 victory when he predicted the Sharks would be back in San Jose for a Game 7 "because we are a better team than them."
"Tomas wears his heart on his sleeve, and I don't know how that rolled out, whether it was social media or whatever, but it was ridiculous," DeBoer said. "There was no guarantee made. It was an emotional guy with English as his second language (Hertl is from the Czech Republic) ... just professing his confidence in our group. He did that, and he delivered."
Hertl, who refused several questions from the media after Game 6 when it came to Game 7 predictions, instead turned the focus on the play of Jones.
"He was unreal," Hertl said. "He had (58) saves. ... We can just thank him that we're still alive.
"After this huge win, we just have to finish. It will be really hard, but that's what you play hockey for, games like this. And now it's Game 7. There can be nothing better than to play a Game 7. And I can't wait for it."
--Field Level Media
Sharks look to complete rally in Game 7 vs. Knights
More TOP STORIES News