Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after his team’s 4-0 Game 4 win over the Golden Knights that his squad was looking better every game.
The Sharks started off balance and allowed one goal too many before mounting a comeback Friday night. They seemed caught off guard by the Golden Knights’ early energy in throwing pucks to the net, and by the time the Sharks righted themselves after falling behind 4-0 it was too late.
“You’re in the hole, you’re chasing the game and then we started turning pucks over,” said DeBoer, who lost for only the second time in six Game 5s as coach of the Sharks. “They dominated the second period. The third period, a little window dressing there at the end, but bottom line is we have have to play harder for longer stretches than we did tonight.”
The Sharks didn’t make any lineup changes after their first shutout of the series but were unable to bring their dominant Game 4 performance on the road with them. The Golden Knights were the aggressors from the outset, with 15 shots in the first period. They outshot San Jose 39-30 after losing the shots battle 123-96 in Games 2-4.
“We have to start right away,” forward Tomas Hertl said. “We’ll for sure come back. I believe because this is a strong team and we can create chances and we (can) play like the last three games before this.”
Goaltender Martin Jones’ head was kept on a swivel as he faced shots from all angles, including one from Erik Haula on a one-timer from the left corner. The puck squeezed between Jones’ back and the right post to give the Knights a 3-0 lead 9:59 into the second period.
Between Jones and backup Aaron Dell, who entered the game after Alex Tuch made it 4-0 8:36 into the third period, the Sharks faced a series-high 39 shots. The Sharks totaled a series-low 30 shots on goal and struggled to generate chances until their third-period flurry.
Hertl, Kevin Labanc and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Sharks within a 6:09 span to make it a one-goal game with 4:16 to play, but the Knights’ lead proved too much to overcome.
“Good third period, but we have to play the rest of the 40 minutes like that,” Labanc said.
“We were getting too cute,” DeBoer said of the Sharks’ slow start.
“We have to go back now, win a game, and find a way in Game 7.”