59°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Winning Game 7 in San Jose will take mentally tough Knights

For the first time in its short history, since entering the NHL as an expansion team last year and creating the implausible from what most believed the impossible, the Golden Knights on Tuesday night in San Jose will experience playoff hockey.

The ultimate kind.

The do-or-die kind for both teams on ice.

It’s only about what exists above the shoulders now, which side between the Knights and Sharks own a higher degree of mental toughness.

That’s it. That’s all.

Bodies are weary. It has been a long and physical series.

It’s all about the head now.

San Jose on Sunday night avoided elimination for the second straight game in dramatic fashion, beating the Knights 2-1 in double overtime of Game 6 in this Western Conference quarterfinal before what ultimately became a despondent crowd of 18,458 at T-Mobile Arena, where by far the best game of this series played out.

The Knights earned their share of playoff experience last season, claiming a Western Conference title and advancing to a Stanley Cup Final. But at no time was a series extended to a seventh game.

At no time did they face the pressure of what will welcome them to SAP Center. Not even in a Cup final against Washington, a series that ended in five games because the Capitals were just that much deeper and better.

“You know, it’s Game 7,” said Knights coach Gerard Gallant of what awaits Tuesday. “It’s Game 7 and both teams want to advance. I think it will be two teams grinding it out and trying to advance. … Winner-take-all, Game 7. You get ready to play and forget about (Sunday). You have to move on and get ready for the next one.”

And such becomes their greatest challenge: How to recover from a game where the most important of statistics suggested the Knights should already be preparing to host Colorado in Game 1 of a Western semifinal?

How in the world do you get past having 30 more shots than your opponent, scoring just once and losing in double-overtime?

The Knights can do so by playing a similar game to that of Sunday, as difficult a proposition as that might seem on the road with a season riding on the outcome.

But they took 59 shots in Game 6, all of which were turned away except for a Jonathan Marchessault second-period backhand that sailed past Martin Jones, circa 2016.

San Jose’s goalie is suddenly the one who led the Sharks to a Stanley Cup Final four years ago and not the one who has been routinely pulled against the Knights the past two seasons.

The Knights need to solve him Tuesday, need a lot more odd-man rushes than they managed in Game 6, need to convert when such moments arise.

They also need an even better version of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Hertl goal soft

He stopped 27 of 29 shots Sunday and some again were fantastic saves, but as much as the short-handed game-winner from Tomas Hertl at 11:17 of the second overtime was the fault of defenseman Shea Theodore for not being aggressive enough with this stick and allowing Hertl to spring free, it was absolutely a long enough shot that you would expect Fleury to deny.

It was the first double-overtime short-handed goal in NHL playoff history.

It was also a soft one that has to be stopped.

“They get one little crack at it and sneak one by (Fleury),” Marchessault said. “It’s obviously disappointing. I think we should’ve won, but who cares? We’ve got to go to Game 7 and get it done over there.”

It wasn’t a good hockey game Sunday. It was a great one.

This is the San Jose, with Jones playing as he has the past two games, that most believed could win the Stanley Cup at season’s outset. This is that team, one the Knights now must defeat on the road to avoid breaking for the summer.

Forget the legs. Forget the six games that preceded this moment.

Do-or-die is about the head.

Come late Tuesday night, we’ll know which side is tougher above the shoulders.

The other side? Hello, vacation.

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights and Henderson make deal on new facility - VIDEO
Henderson City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement with the Vegas Golden Knights to build and operate an indoor ice hockey facility in downtown Henderson, Tuesday evening. ( Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Kelly McCrimmon Gets Promoted to Golden Knight General Manager - Video
The Vegas Golden Knights have announced that Kelly McCrimmon has been promoted to General Manager of the team, effective September 1, 2019. Regarding his new role, McCrimmon will represent the Golden Knights at the NHL's General Managers Meetings and will be the point of contact for other league GMs.
Golden Knights Say an "Awful Call" Cost Them the Series - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault believe that an "awful call" by the officials cost them game 7.
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 7 at T-Mobile - VIDEO
Golden Knights went through a roller coaster in game 7 which lead to the Knights loss 5-4 in overtime.
Sharks & Golden Knights fans fired up for Game 7
Ahead of Game 7 in San Jose, Sharks and Golden Knights fans get hyped for the game in the fan zone at SAP Center.
Golden Knights prepare for Game 7 in San Jose - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knigths players and the head coach talk about their mindset ahead of facing the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 on the road at the SAP Center.
Knights' Gallant Calls DeBoer a "clown" - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant calls Sharks coach Pete DeBoer a "clown" and says his comments are a little "unclassy" for him in response to being called the master chirper for the Knights.
Golden Knights fans father outside T-Mobile Arena waiting for game 6 against the Sharks
Golden Knights gather outside the T-Mobile Arena ready to watch game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Knights aim to close out Sharks series at home - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights players and head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about what needs to be done ahead of Game 6 at the T-Mobile Arena to clinch the series. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant talks ahead of Game 6
The Golden Knights coach talked about his team’s upcoming game with the San Jose Sharks after Saturday’s practice.
Coach Gallant Speaks to media about game 5 against the Sharks - VIDEO
Golden Knight's coach Gerard Gallant speaks at City National Arena following thursday's game 5 against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 5 At Henderson Pavilion - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at the Henderson Pavilion to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fans prepare for Game 5 of the Golden Knights-Sharks series
Golden Knights and Sharks fans took part in pregame festivities at the SAP Center in San Jose ahead of Game 5 of the playoff series.
Golden Knights Fans Land in San Jose - VIDEO
Four Golden Knights fans who traveled from Las Vegas talk about the experiences they've had in San Jose with fans and the police ahead of Game 5 and give their predictions for the final score of the game.
Shea Theodore says he's trying to be a threat in all phases - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights Defenseman Shea Theodore says he's trying to elevate his game in all phases and his teammate Alex Tuch talks about Theodore's growth as a player.
Knights preparing to play a "desperate" Sharks team on the road
The Vegas Golden Knights could close out their first playoff series on the road against the San Jose Sharks when Game 5 takes place at the SAP Center. The team says they're going to have to play their best to defeat a "desperate" opponent.
Coach Gallant speaks after practice, as the Golden Knights prep for Game 5
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after the team's open skate.
Sharks Coach: I think our emotions got away from us a little bit
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer and center Joe Pavelski say the team needs to hold their emotions in check going forward. Pavelski talks about the Ryan Reaves effect.
2019 NHL Awards set for Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19
During the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, tribute was paid to first responders and survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting by a handful of Vegas Golden Knights. NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said that's why the league is moving the show to the site of the tragedy. The Mandalay Bay Events Center will host the ceremony on June 19th.
Ryan Reaves says Joe Thornton's Hit was "Gutless" - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says Sharks' forward Joe Thornton's hit on Tomas Nosek was "gutless." Thornton has been suspended for one game (game four on Tues., April 16) as a result of the hit.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson on Rookie Faceoff
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson discusses team's 7-6 win over Colorado in the Vegas Rookie Faceoff
Fleury's newborn son attends Game 3 - VIDEO
Marc-Andre Fleury's newborn son and his wife Veronique were in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena during game 3. Fleury talks about having his family there to support him.
Sharks and Knights players get physical during game 3 - VIDEO
Several fights broke out during game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Golden Knights and Sharks. Capping off the skirmishes was an intense showdown between Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane.
Golden Knights Fans Gather At T-mobile To Watch Game 3 Of The Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather outside of the T-Mobile arena to watch game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Knights GM says it was important for the team to sign Nikita Gusev
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee says it was important for the team to sign Russian standout Nikita Gusev. The Knights announced they had signed the forward to a one-year, entry level contract on Sunday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Golden Knights Watch Party For Game 2 Of Sharks Series - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at Top Golf to watch the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss to San Jose in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on lineup
Golden Knights Fans Gather Downtown For First Round of Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather downtown to watch the first game of the playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge Mailbag - April 10, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gallant on Golden Knights lineup against Sharks
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on lineup against the San Jose Sharks for Game 1 of the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Prepare for Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights players Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault feel that the team is both mentally and physically prepared to take on the Sharks in round one of the NHL Playoffs.
Golden Knights sign defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year contract
The Golden Knights have signed free agent defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year, entry level contract. Schuldt comes to the Golden Knights after graduating from St. Cloud State University, where he lead the Huskies to a regular-season conference title and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Golden Knights letting playoff mentality set in - VIDEO
As the Vegas Golden Knights finish out their season, the team and head coach Gerard Gallant talk about where their mindset is, how they are preparing for the playoffs and their win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Golden Knights Lose to Wild, Clinch Playoff Berth - VIDEO
Despite losing 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild, the Vegas Golden Knights are locked in to a playoff spot. Head coach Gerard Gallant and players discuss their performance against the Wild and what it means to go back to the playoffs.
Gallant on losing to the Avalanche
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Colorado loss
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag- March 27, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gerard Gallant on Paul Stastny
Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Paul Stastny's role on the team. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on St. Louis goal
Gerard Gallant talks about St. Louis's third goal on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on St. Louis Blues
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to St. Louis on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
William Karlsson talks before Ducks game
The Golden Knights center talked about Paul Stastny’s line, Reilly Smith’s between-the-legs goal and more.
Mark Stone Locker Room - Full Video
Mark Stone, who was traded Monday to the Vegas Golden Knights from Ottawa, speaks to the press about the move. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach talks Mark Stone trade
The Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant discusses the team’s newest player, forward Mark Stone, acquired from the Ottawa Senators. (Ben Gotz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Aviators speedster Jorge Mateo sprints toward majors

He is 23, hails from the Dominican Republic and leads the Pacific Coast League in hits (54), steals (11) and triples (9), the latter just four off equaling the team record of Joe Thurston in 2002.

 
Daniel Jacobs came up light on effort, but not on weight — VIDEO

You’re not beating the A side — especially when it’s Saúl Canelo Alvarez — by taking off the middle rounds of a mega-middleweight fight that unified three championship belts in the division, but that’s what Jacobs did and he rightly paid for it.

Raiders begin building with cleaner, less risky NFL Draft

While forecasting how a team’s draft will ultimately be judged on the field remains incredibly subjective, this isn’t: The class had a much different feel this year than last. Cleaner. Fewer red flags to investigate. Players that other teams hadn’t passed on for medical or off-field issues.