Stone’s hat trick sparks Knights to series lead — VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Mark Stone notched his first career hat trick and Paul Stastny scored two goals to lead the Golden Knights past the San Jose Sharks 6-3 in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Updated April 15, 2019 - 1:38 am
The new pregame extravaganza featuring the Golden Knights’ mascot appeared to have an issue with the ending.
If that wasn’t enough, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s last name was spelled wrong on the video scoreboard during player introductions.
But once Game 3 started Sunday night, everything went off without a glitch for the Knights.
Led by a hat trick from Mark Stone, the second line produced every goal in a 6-3 victory over San Jose at a raucous T-Mobile Arena.
The Knights, who lost their final two games at home in the Stanley Cup Final against Washington, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals with Game 4 on Tuesday.
When a best-of-seven series is tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 goes on to take the series 67.9 percent of the time.
“We’ve had success and you can’t dwell on that,” Stone said. “We have to be good professionals and continue to get better. We know we have more to give and we want to contribute for our team.”
Stone scored 16 seconds into the first period for the fastest postseason goal in franchise history — and the second-fastest overall — on the way to a five-point night.
Paul Stastny added two goals and three assists, and defenseman Shea Theodore had three assists.
In addition to Stone’s opening goal, Stastny scored 21 seconds into the second period and Stone added another goal 36 seconds into the third.
“We feel good about our contribution right now,” left wing Max Pacioretty said. “Not every night is going to be like that. We know that. There’s other ways to contribute to a team win. It’s not always on the scoreboard, that’s just happened to be the scenario for the last two games.”
Fleury finished with 25 saves and earned his 77th career postseason victory, tying Mike Vernon for seventh on the all-time list.
The Knights racked up 56 penalty minutes in the first two games of the series, but they frustrated San Jose into seven penalties and took advantage by going 2-for-6 on the power play.
Stone banged in a rebound for his second goal to put the Knights on top 5-1 early in the third period, and he finished off his first career hat trick with 6:03 remaining after San Jose had cut the deficit to 5-3.
The line of Stone, Stastny and Pacioretty has combined for 22 points through three games.
Stone leads the league this postseason with six goals and has eight points, while Stastny has two goals and six assists. Pacioretty has six points after tallying a goal and an assist.
“I think we’re just creating a lot of chances off turnovers, and that’s a key to our success,” Stastny said. “We’re not the fastest of foot line, but we have good sticks, we have good anticipation, and we know how to read each other.”
Stone, who notched five goals in 18 games after being acquired at the trade deadline, sent the announced crowd of 18,461 into a frenzy when he scored his fourth goal of the playoffs on the opening shift of the first period.
Defenseman Nate Schmidt threaded a pass through the neutral zone, and Stone and split the heart of San Jose’s defense before lifting a backhand over Martin Jones’ glove.
The only faster goal in team history was scored by William Karlsson (14 seconds) against San Jose on Nov. 24, 2018.
Pacioretty put the Knights on top 2-0 at 12:16 when he snapped a shot from the right circle past Jones five seconds after San Jose’s Evander Kane was handed a double-minor for high-sticking.
The Sharks briefly recovered and cut the deficit in half at 4:34 of the first when Joe Thornton stripped Jon Merrill behind the Knights’ net and fed Kevin Labanc, who jammed it past Fleury at the near post.
But the Knights regained control in the second, as Stastny swooped in and grabbed a rebound in the slot before wristing a shot past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (34 saves) for a 3-1 lead in the opening minute of the second.
Stone found Stastny for a redirection and his second goal with 3:56 left in the second.
“I think we’re doing a good job controlling the puck down low,” Theodore said. “I felt we had a lot less turnovers tonight which definitely fed off our rushes. We definitely had guys’ back.”
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1. Oh, no, Jumbo. San Jose center Joe Thornton sideswiped the Knights’ Tomas Nosek with 3:06 remaining in the second period and received a two-minute minor penalty for illegal contact to the head. Nosek returned in the third period, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Thornton, who could be in his final season, receives a call from the Department of Player Safety.
2. Brawl for it all. Knights right wing Ryan Reaves finally got his wish late in the third period when San Jose’s Evander Kane dropped the gloves. The two exchanged haymakers and Kane more than held his own, before Reaves took down his longtime rival with the crowd roaring its approval.
3. Get that outta here. Kane created a short-handed breakaway with a little more than four minutes remaining in the second period, but Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made a diving poke-check to thwart the chance. Soon after, Paul Stastny scored to put the Knights up 4-1.
Game 1: Sharks 5, Golden Knights 2
Game 2: Golden Knights 5, Sharks 3
Game 3: Golden Knights 6, Sharks 3
Tuesday: at Golden Knights, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday: at San Jose, TBA
x-April 21: at Golden Knights, TBA
x-April 23: at San Jose, TBA