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Big dose of desperation carries Sharks past Golden Knights

SAN JOSE, Calif. — It is said to be the central component of learning something, of creating something. Desperation can be a powerful force.

Which is why T-Mobile Arena will host a hockey game on Easter.

Get ready for some big-time intensity with all those chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.

This best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series isn’t over because the San Jose Sharks didn’t want it to be, because they were the better side Thursday night in beating the Golden Knights 5-2 at SAP Center.

Things return to Las Vegas on Sunday and, suddenly, we know what Knights forward Max Pacioretty meant when addressing things following Game 4.

“All it takes,” he said Tuesday, “is one game the other way.”

That occurred here and it was defined by how you would expect a team facing elimination to compete, the Sharks winning what was unquestionably the best of five games between the teams these playoffs.

The chirping and extracurriculars were finally kept to a minimum and a real hockey game broke out.

Instead of players trading time in the penalty box, skates got moving and things got fast.

“They played a good game,” said Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault. “You’ve got to give credit to them. They were good, they were skating hard, they were making nice plays. It was an intense game out there and they were better than us.

“We didn’t play a bad game. Definitely, we didn’t test (Sharks goalie Martin Jones) enough. Next game is going to be different.”

Here’s the thing about desperation: It too can change locker rooms during the course of a series, and even while holding a 3-2 advantage and still just a win away from advancing, the Knights on Sunday will undoubtedly play with a certain amount of it.

Tomas Hertl scored two of San Joe’s goals and told an approving postgame crowd that he and the rest of the Sharks would be back for a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday, that theirs was the better team.

It certainly was Thursday, which means nothing going forward.

For the series to be extended to a final stage in this place surrounded by rolling hills and tech companies, Jones would have to continue what was much better play Thursday by a goalie who had previously been pulled six times in 17 starts against the Knights.

He stopped 30 of 32 shots and yet it was as much about those in front of him as anything, the Sharks blocking 18 shots and managing 17 takeaways.

They wanted this one like nobody’s business.

Power play success

“We came in expecting to see their best and we did,” Pacioretty said. “Could have gone either way. Their top guys made plays at the right time, which you expect from some of the offensive guys they have. We have to wipe it out and worry about the next one.

“This next one (Sunday) is huge. We have a couple days here before the game, so go home, recharge the batteries and look forward to a fun game back at T-Mobile.”

The Knights had fun via the power play Thursday, scoring on both opportunities. They didn’t have much fun when a high sticking penalty was called on Marchessault at 14:30 of the third period, a penalty assessed late and only after officials met at center ice to discuss how and why Logan Couture of the Sharks skated off with blood coming from his mouth.

Fifteen seconds into the advantage, Hertl scored in close on a wrister, the Sharks led 4-2 and the folks back at T-Mobile began planning for a game on Easter.

Which version of San Jose the Knights might see, however, is anyone’s guess.

What they got Thursday was more of the Sharks from Game 1, a team that when it takes away time and space as it did from the Knights in Game 5, when its best players gain confidence from scoring first, when Jones plays nothing like the Jones we have come to expect, is really tough to beat.

“That’s what it takes right now,” said Sharks forward Joe Pavelski. “We’ve shown the other way doesn’t work, so now we have to be committed to doing it this way.”

Hey, they were desperate.

It’s a powerful force.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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