The Vegas / San Jose series has been a war. Both teams are grinding hard and every shift is a battle. One of the biggest differences has been the Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty line. They lead all playoff players in points with Stastny and Stone tied at the top and Pacioretty alone in third. Stone’s hat-trick in Game 3 gave him double the number of goals anyone else has.
Their main match-up through the first two games was against the Evander Kane, Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Hertl line. Although they were relatively sound defensively they were only able to hold Kane, Nyquist, and Hertl to a combined three goals. The Stastny line was held to just one scoring chance, against that Sharks line, in the first two games combined.
In Game 3, Vegas had last change and used it to get the match-up they wanted which it turns out is Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Joe Pavelski. San Jose changed up its lines during the game so they ended up playing an almost identical amount against Meier, Couture, and either Pavelski or Nyquist. Regardless of who the Stastny’s line faced, they dominated. The line scored all six of Vegas’ goals and only gave up one. They out-chanced Couture’s line 4-0 despite only starting a quarter of the time in the offensive zone.
Vegas clearly made the right call with its match-ups and will no doubt be looking to create that same match-up tonight. San Jose would do well to avoid it at all costs but without the home-ice advantage, Peter DeBoer will have his work cut out for him. Stastny’s line is hot right now and unless the Sharks can find a way to slow them down, they run the risk of finding themselves down 3-1 in the series heading back to San Jose.
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