SAN JOSE, Calif. — Sharks coach Pete DeBoer lamented the fact his team was constantly falling behind and “chasing the game” during the Western Conference semifinal against the Golden Knights.
He won’t have to worry about it anymore after San Jose was eliminated 3-0 in Game 6 Sunday night at SAP Center.
“When you’re chasing the game against anybody in the final eight, five out of the six nights, just like we did to Anaheim (in the first round), you saw the results,” DeBoer said after losing the series 4-2. “It’s a fine line. We had a couple (off posts) that didn’t go in. That’s hockey. But Vegas deserves to be moving on. They played great. They finished the chances when they needed to. They got saves when they needed to and I wish them the best of luck. They’ve done a fantastic job with that team.”
The Knights advanced largely because they were able to capitalize on opportunities that the Sharks could not throughout the series.
It was once again the case on Sunday night.
San Jose controlled the action for much of the first 26 minutes, yet found itself in a hole when William Karlsson forced a Marc-Edouard Vlasic turnover and Jonathan Marchessault put it in the net. The deficit doubled later in the second period when a review determined Nate Schmidt’s blast from the blue line was a good goal.
“Yeah, it was a little bit (frustrating),” forward Chris Tierney said. “We were confident in our game, we were getting good chances, getting pucks on the net, I thought we had good traffic in front. We just couldn’t score and then they ended up getting the first goal and then we couldn’t find many more Grade As after that.”
Tierney believes Vegas will be a good representative for the Pacific Division in the Western Conference Final regardless of whether it plays Winnipeg or Nashville.
“Every series is different, but they have a lot of speed and skill up front and they have a lot of guys that capitalize on opportunities well and they have a good power play, so they’re a tough matchup no matter who they get next round.”
Defenseman Brent Burns agreed, adding it’s unfair to qualify the Knights success with the expansion label.
“They’re a great team,” he said. “This time of year, there’s only great teams left. I don’t care if it’s a first-year team or a 40th-year team. They’re a good team.”
DeBoer wasn’t surprised by that.
He believes his team was prepared for the challenge the Knights would bring after they racked up 109 points in the regular season and entered the series off a four-game sweep of Los Angeles in the opening round.
“They came exactly as advertised,” DeBoer said. “Hard working, tenacious, great goaltending, good special teams. They were very good.”
They left the Sharks searching for answers they will have plenty of time to ponder.
“It’s never fun to end the season earlier than you want,” forward Evander Kane said. “We had our chances and we just couldn’t capitalize. There was a lot of pucks that rolled by the post or hit the post or landed in the crease that we just couldn’t seem to get by Fleury.
“We didn’t have bounces go our way and they capitalized on their chances. They played hard and you have to give them credit. We just weren’t good enough.”