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Sharks expect challenging series from Golden Knights

Finish sweep of Ducks in Western First Round one night after Vegas swept Kings

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was an early believer in the Vegas Golden Knights.

Long before the expansion Golden Knights became an opponent for the Sharks in the Western Conference Second Round, and long before Vegas won the Pacific Division by eight points.

DeBoer talked about the specific timing, shortly after the Sharks completed a first-round series sweep with a 2-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 at SAP Center on Wednesday.

 

[RELATED: Sharks win Game 4, sweep Ducks | Complete Golden Knights vs. Sharks series coverage]

 

"All I can tell you is I remember playing them in November and walking out and going, 'This isn't a mirage. These guys are for real,'" DeBoer said. "Their game was real -- the way they came at you, the tenacity they played with, the depth they have.

"So that opinion from me hasn't changed in any of the games we've played them. It went back as far as November when we played them early. So great test for us. We're going to need the prep time to be ready."

The game he referred to was Nov. 24 in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights defeated the Sharks 5-4 in overtime for their ninth win in 10 home games, 21 games into their inaugural season.

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Sharks advances to Round Two

Vegas reached the second round Tuesday when it completed a sweep against the Los Angeles Kings with a 1-0 win.

It was the second Stanley Cup Playoff sweep in Sharks history. San Jose swept the Vancouver Canucks five years ago in the first round.

They outscored the Ducks 16-4 in the series, and goaltender Martin Jones made 128 saves on 132 shots (.970 save percentage). The four goals-against set a Sharks record for fewest allowed by a goalie in a playoff series.

"When you put a team up against a wall like that, you know they're going to come with a push," Jones said of Game 4. "They gave us everything they had, and it was tough. But the guys did a great job. We had a couple of huge penalty kills, huge blocked shots, and it was a gutsy way to win there."

The Sharks were 1-2-1 against the Golden Knights in the regular season.

"They're a fast team," Jones said. "They come at you with all four lines. They forecheck hard, and they're just a tenacious, hardworking team. So we need to make sure that we're prepared properly here and ready to go right from the start of Game 1."

Tomas Hertl, who scored the game-winning goal Wednesday at 9:09 of the third period, praised Jones.

"[Jones] was amazing all series," Hertl said. "Again, he was the best player for us. … [The Golden Knights had] a great season. I was watching when they played every other night (in the playoffs). They play really good, really fast. [Goalie Marc-Andre] Fleury is like [Jones], he was great all series. He was amazing too.

"But we have to be ready, be all over him on the ice. They play fast and they really like to play in their building. For sure, tough series. But we can handle it."

Video: ANA@SJS, Gm4: Hertl deflects one home from the slot

Some of the Sharks weren't quite ready to start talking about the specific challenges that the Golden Knights will present in the second round.

But it's never too early to get started with the sound bites, and DeBoer had a good one, in his best dry manner, drawing some laughter at his postgame news conference.

"I know we're going to be heavy, heavy underdogs," he said. "So hopefully you guys write that."

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