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5 Keys: Golden Knights at Sharks, Game 6

Vegas can advance to Western Conference Final; San Jose seeks fast start

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

GOLDEN KNIGHTS at SHARKS

7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

 

Vegas leads best-of-7 series 3-2

SAN JOSE -- The Vegas Golden Knights can advance to the Western Conference Final with a win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the second round at SAP Center on Sunday.

The Golden Knights defeated the Sharks 5-3 in Game 5 at home Friday. Neither team has won consecutive games in the series.

 

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

 

Vegas can become the third team in NHL history to win multiple Stanley Cup Playoff series in its inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas (1918) and St. Louis Blues (1968).

The Sharks have trailed 3-2 in a series 12 times in their history and have won one of them (1995 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Calgary Flames).

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:

 
1. Elimination game desperation

The Sharks, who swept the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, are facing elimination for the first time in the playoffs. San Jose defeated Vegas 4-0 in Game 4 when they trailed 2-1 in the series.

"We've got to bring that desperation," Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller said. "I think they did a good job when we were up 2-1 and we played here. They were the desperate team. They played like it. And I think we did that last game. Any team that's been kind of the more desperate team has won in this series."

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm3: Neal sets up Miller for PPG

 

2. Starting fast

The Golden Knights scored first in three of the five games and have forced the Sharks to chase them throughout much of the series. Vegas took a 1-0 lead with three seconds left in the first period of Game 5 on James Neal's goal and extended its lead to 4-0 midway through the third period before San Jose rallied.

"You can't second guess," Sharks forward Evander Kane said. "If you're going to make a mistake, you've got to make a hard one with effort behind it. I think that's what we're going to do. In Game 5, we really were too cautious."

 

3. Strong forechecking

The Golden Knights and Sharks thrive when they have a strong forecheck and struggle when they don't. Getting through the neutral zone with speed will be critical.

"I think our forecheck was better last game, and it really forced them to make some tougher plays breaking out, and I think that's one of the biggest keys to our success," Vegas forward Reilly Smith said.

 

4. Hertl's power game

Tomas Hertl has scored in three straight games, all from close range. The Sharks forward has nine points (six goals, three assists) in the playoffs, second on San Jose behind Logan Couture (12 points; four goals, eight assists).

"He goes out and he plays a man's game at an important time of the year," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of Hertl.

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm3: Hertl ties it up late in the 3rd

 

5. Another lineup change? 

Vegas made three lineup changes for Game 5 and might be forced to make another for Game 6. Fourth-line forward William Carrier sustained an undisclosed injury at 8:41 of the second period in Game 5 and did not return. He didn't skate Saturday and will be a game-time decision. If he can't play, Tomas Nosek, Tomas Tatar and Ryan Reaves would be the options to enter the lineup.

"I'm not worried about putting anybody in," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said.

 

Golden Knights projected lineup

William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith -- Jonathan Marchessault

James Neal -- Erik Haula -- David Perron

Oscar Lindberg -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch

Ryan Carpenter -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Tomas Nosek

Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt

Shea Theodore -- Deryk Engelland

Luca Sbisa -- Colin Miller

Marc-Andre Fleury

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Jon Merrill, Tomas Tatar, Ryan Reaves, Brad Hunt

Injured: William Carrier (undisclosed)

 

Sharks projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Joonas Donskoi

Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc

Marcus Sorensen -- Eric Fehr -- Melker Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo   

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Paul Martin, Barclay Goodrow, Joel Ward, Jannik Hansen, Dylan Gambrell

Injured: Joe Thornton (knee)

 

Status report

The Sharks are expected to use the same lineup they used in Game 5.

 

***

 

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