Forgive Luca Sbisa if he was a bit rusty early in Game 5 of the Golden Knights’ Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks.
The veteran defenseman hadn’t played since Feb. 27 when he injured his right hand against the Los Angeles Kings. But with coach Gerard Gallant looking to give the Sharks a different look Friday, Sbisa was in the lineup at T-Mobile Arena while Jon Merrill sat.
“I started skating two weeks after my injury so my conditioning should be there,” said Sbisa, who was paired with Colin Miller as the Knights’ third defensive pairing. “You’ve got to make sure you move those legs. You’re going to be tired early but you’ve got to fight through it.
“I think once I get a few shifts under me, I should be O.K.”
Sbisa’s return wasn’t the only lineup change made by Gallant for Game 5. Oscar Lindberg made his playoff debut, taking Tomas Tatar’s place on Cody Eakin’s line. They were joined by Alex Tuch, who was dropped from Erik Haula’s line to allow David Perron to reunite with Haula and James Neal.
Ryan Carpenter also returned to the lineup, taking Tomas Nosek’s spot on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Will Carrier.
“You do what you have to do to put your best lineup on the ice and give yourself the best chance to win,” Gallant said of the expected changes after Friday’s morning skate at City National Arena.
Game 6 watch party
The Knights will once again hold a watch party at Toshiba Plaza for Game 6 Sunday.
Fans can watch the game on the large screen on the facade of T-Mobile Arena. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Parking will be available at the New York-New York garage. Admission to the watch party is free and fans are encouraged to get there at 3:30 p.m. The opening faceoff is set for 4:30 p.m. in San Jose.
Tuch’s brother honored
Tuch’s younger brother Luke was named to the U.S. Under-17 national hockey team Friday.
Alex Tuch played on the same team back in 2012-13 prior to attending Boston College. Luke Tuch is expected to attend Boston University.
Going into Friday’s action, San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen had the highest shooting percentage of any player still competing in the playoffs.
Sorensen has four goals on just eight shots and is shooting 50 percent. He’s averaging just one shot per game, however.
The Knights’ leading shooter in the playoffs is Eakin, who is at 20 percent (two goals in 10 shots over eight games).