In a tightly contested series where every winner scored five or more goals heading into Game 6, last night’s San Jose-Vegas game stands out like a sore thumb. Vegas racked up the shots like there was no tomorrow, but San Jose still managed to take away most of the quality looks, especially off the rush.
Vegas came into the game averaging 7.2 rush scoring chances per game, third-best in the playoffs despite not going to extra time once. Those rush chances led to five goals in the first five games, tied with Colorado for the most in Round 1. In Game 6 however, the Sharks completely shut down their speed.
Despite a massive 78 controlled entries in Game 6, the most by any team in a game this year, regular season or playoffs, Vegas wasn’t able to accomplish anything off the rush. They didn’t record a single rush chance in the first period and, after about 90 minutes of play, they could only muster three, with two actually hitting the net. Martin Jones said it best.
Jones was right when speaking about point-blank shots. Vegas only mustered seven shots from the inner slot all game, down from their series average of 8.6 despite the extra time. Speaking of Jones, the Sharks goalie set a new franchise record for most saves in a game, be it regular season or playoffs, with 58 saves on 59 shots. That topples the previous mark of 57, set by Jeff Hackett in 1992. Overall, he saved his team about three goals relative to average to help force Game 7. He’s bounced back well from some shaky performances that saw him get pulled before the start of the second period twice.
Now the series shifts back to San Jose for the deciding Game 7. If the Sharks have truly found a way to shut down the Golden Knights speed-based attack and Martin Jones is back to his usual self, they have a good chance to get revenge from last season and eliminate Vegas to move on to the second round.