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5 Keys: Sharks at Golden Knights, Game 3

San Jose goalie Jones needs support; Vegas must stay out of penalty box

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist



Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

The San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights will play for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference First Round in Game 3 at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Golden Knights series coverage]


San Jose won Game 1 5-2. Vegas won Game 2 5-3.

When a best-of-7 series has been tied 1-1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the winner of Game 3 has won the series 67.9 percent of the time (212-100).

Here are 5 Keys for Game 3:


1. Support Martin Jones

The Sharks made sure goalie Martin Jones wasn't the story in Game 1, playing strong team defense and taking care of the puck. Not so in Game 2. Jones allowed three goals on seven shots and was pulled 6:39 into the first period.

Jones has been pulled five times in 15 games against the Golden Knights, in the regular season and playoffs combined, and that was the quickest he has gotten the hook.

He has been pulled three times in six games at T-Mobile Arena, though he played well in his last game there, making 36 saves in a 3-2 win Jan. 10.


2. Replace Vlasic

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left Game 2 early in the second period after being struck by a shot and did not participate in the morning skate before Game 3. Coach Peter DeBoer said Vlasic is a game-time decision.

Defenseman Tim Heed said he would make his postseason debut in Game 3, which indicates Vlasic will be out. The pairs in the morning skate were Joakim Ryan and Brent Burns, Brenden Dillon and Erik Karlsson, and Heed and Justin Braun.

"We've got to know that we're a good team, and it's not just one player that makes us a good team, especially defensively," Dillon said. "We know when we're playing Sharks hockey, when we're playing to our good things, it's everyone's checking well. Everyone's tight together."


3. Keep drawing penalties

The Sharks had 13 power plays and 21:05 of power-play time in the first two games. Some of that was because of a lack of discipline by the Golden Knights. Some of that was aggressiveness by San Jose, frustrating Vegas and putting it in bad positions defensively.

"They play a lot of man on man, and if you're moving your feet and attacking holes, they're forced to take penalties," DeBoer said. "And I think that's what you're seeing."


4. Stay out of the box

The Golden Knights got away with it in Game 2. They held the Sharks to 1-for-8 on the power play and scored two shorthanded goals while going 1-for-3 on the power play themselves.

That is unsustainable.

"We've got to be a lot better staying out of the box," defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "You give them that many chances, they're going to kill you in a series. That power play's a good power play."

The Sharks ranked sixth on the man-advantage in the regular season (23.6 percent).


5. Get others going

The Golden Knights are at their best 5-on-5, rolling four forward lines and three defense pairs. Spending so much time on the penalty kill has taken them out of rhythm and kept some players from getting as involved as they need to be.

Vegas needs more from forward Jonathan Marchessault (zero points, two shots, minus-3) in particular. He had nine points (four goals, five assists) and was plus-7 in six games against the Sharks in the second round last year.


Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture -- Joe Pavelski

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Gustav Nyquist

Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Micheal Haley -- Barclay Goodrow -- Melker Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Tim Heed -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Joonas Donskoi, Lukas Radil

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (undisclosed), Radim Simek (knee)


Golden Knights projected lineup

Jonathan Marchessault -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith

Max Pacioretty -- Paul Stastny -- Mark Stone

Tomas Nosek -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch

William Carrier -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Ryan Reaves

Nate Schmidt -- Deryk Engelland

Brayden McNabb -- Shea Theodore

Jon Merrill -- Colin Miller

Marc-Andre Fleury

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Nikita Gusev, Ryan Carpenter, Nick Holden, Jimmy Schuldt, Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov

Injured: Erik Haula (lower body)


Status report

The Golden Knights will use the same lineup from Game 2. … Gusev is expected to practice Monday after signing a one-year, entry-level contract Sunday.

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