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5 Keys: Golden Knights at Sharks, Game 2

Vegas seeks better start; San Jose looks to keep defensemen active

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist


10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2, NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM

San Jose leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The San Jose Sharks will try to take a 2-0 series lead against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round at SAP Center on Friday.

The Sharks won Game 1 5-2, outshooting the Golden Knights 33-26.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have won the series 86.4 percent of the time (318-50). They have won the series 88.9 percent of the time (241-30) when winning the first two games of the series at home.

Here are 5 Keys for Game 2:


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


1. Start strong

The Sharks put an emphasis on a strong start in Game 1, and it paid off when the fourth line drew a penalty and the power play cashed in for a 1-0 lead. It's far more comfortable playing from ahead than chasing the game.

"When we've played these guys in the past, we've played from behind a lot," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "You can never script a perfect start, but that was a good start for us. I liked our first period. We got out front, took a little pressure off ourselves, got the crowd involved."


2. Stay tight

The Sharks took pressure off goalie Martin Jones by smothering the Golden Knights in all three zones. Through two periods, the Sharks had a 4-1 lead and were outshooting the Golden Knights 22-10.

But they loosened up, took penalties and were outshot 16-11 in the third. Jones had to stop forward Reilly Smith on a breakaway to keep the score 4-2 with 2:32 remaining. 

The Golden Knights are going to have surges, especially playing catch-up late. But the key for the Sharks is how well they execute their game plan for how long.


3. Keep it 5-on-5

The final score was 5-2, San Jose. But 5-on-5, the score was 1-1.

The Sharks scored 5-on-4, 4-on-4, 3-on-3 and into an empty net. The Golden Knights cannot afford to give them five power plays again, or to give Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson -- the best offensive defensemen in the game -- more open ice to skate with the puck.

Vegas scored a power-play goal and a goal shortly after a power play. But the Golden Knights are at their best when they roll four forward lines and three defense pairs 5-on-5.


4. Make Burns and Karlsson defend

Burns had a goal and an assist. Karlsson had two assists. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic had a goal and an assist after he had three goals and 28 assists in 124 previous playoff games.

One of Vegas' strengths is the forecheck. The Golden Knights have to put the puck in the right spots, get in on the Sharks defense and spend more time in the offensive zone. Of course, they have to get there in the first place, which means they have to do a better job of breaking out and using their speed through the neutral zone.


5. Compete

The Sharks weren't ready for the Golden Knights in Game 1 of the second round last year, losing 7-0. It seems the Golden Knights, who went on to defeat the Sharks in six games in that series, weren't ready for the Sharks in Game 1 this year.

San Jose came to play in Game 2 last year, winning 4-3 in double overtime. It's on Vegas to do the same this year.

"They worked a lot harder than we did," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "That was the biggest issue for me, and that can be corrected real quick."

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

Injured: Erik Haula (lower body)

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

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Joonas Donskoi, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil

Injured: Radim Simek (knee)

Status Report: Pavelski will play after taking a puck to the face in Game 1. ... Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said there will be 'a few' gametime decisions on the lineup, but did not commit to any changes. correspondent Danny Webster contributed to this report


LISTEN: NHL Fantasy on Ice: Game 1 reaction & Game 2 previews

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