Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#43 San Jose Sharks 6.5 vs.
#44 Vegas Golden Knights -165
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 10:38pm EDT
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Written by Chris Altruda

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#43 San Jose
#44 Vegas
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San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights

When and Where: Tuesday, April 16, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev., 10:30 p.m. EDT.

Vegas leads 2-1

San Jose may have two Norris Trophy winners, but it has failed to come up with an answer for the second line of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Looking to avoid returning to the Bay Area facing a daunting 3-1 series deficit, the Sharks look to avoid slow starts in periods and even up this series Tuesday night in Sin City.

Sharks need to solve slow starts to periods

One of the main themes for San Jose against Vegas both in the regular season and this series has been giving up goals early in the period. In the seven meetings between the teams, including the postseason, San Jose has given up a staggering 18 goals in the first six minutes of regulation periods played.

While defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the team with five assists, he also is a minus-3 — the second-worst plus/minus rating on the team behind Joe Pavelski, who is minus-5. Yet the bigger concern has been a total failure in containing the Golden Knights’ second line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny, who have accounted for 10 of the team’s 13 goals in the series.

“They’ve eaten us up in this series here so far. We haven’t had an answer for them,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. “What did they do well? You’ve got three very good players that are playing at a really high level right now. That is part of the issue. We’ve got to find an answer to slow those guys down.”

While Sharks goaltender Martin Jones — who will start Game 4 — was considered a weak link entering this series, he did all he could in stopping 34 of 40 shots in Game 3. His teammates refused to blame him, and with good reason since most of the goals came from close range.

“I think he made a lot of saves tonight,” Sharks center Logan Couture said of Jones. “You look at that game, there are power play chances, there are chances in the slot. He made a lot of big saves. They could have had eight tonight.”

As if things were not going bad enough after Sunday’s loss, veteran center Joe Thornton is suspended for this game for his illegal hit to the head of Thomas Nosek in the second period of Game 3. The decision against the 39-year-old, who has a goal and two assists in this series, came after a hearing with the league Monday.

Defense and special teams continue to be problem areas as the Sharks have allowed four power-play goals in 13 chances and a pair of short-handed tallies. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is questionable for this contest with an undisclosed injury that happened when he was hit by a puck in the second period of Game 2 and missed Sunday’s loss.

Stone looks to follow up first playoff hat trick in club history

Considering Stone had all of 18 games to develop chemistry with his new teammates after being acquired from Ottawa, the emergence of Vegas’ second line with fellow first-year Golden Knights forwards Pacioretty and Stastny is all the more impressive.

Stone netted the first playoff hat trick in the young history of the Golden Knights and with six goals and two assists, he has already matched his point total in the 19 postseason games from the Senators’ 2017 run to the Eastern Conference final.

“I just love being here,” Stone told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I love playing in Las Vegas. I love my teammates, the fans, the city. This is why I came here. I want to play playoff hockey. We’ve had some success, sure, but we can’t dwell on it. We have to be good professionals and continue to get better.”

“We just want to keep it going,” Pacioretty added after a two-point effort. “Never too high, never too low. (San Jose) is a good team. We know they’re going to push hard the next game, and we have to get ready for it.”

Stastny talked about the chemistry among the trio to the club’s official website, noting, “We read off each other well. A lot of times you don’t have to second guess yourself, if you’re F1 or F2 you know that guy who’s behind you is going to be ready to jump on the play. … All of us could be the first guy back, all of us aren’t afraid to forecheck. We all anticipate and try to play aggressive.”

Their play has taken plenty of pressure off Vegas’ top line as William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault have totaled one goal and three points among them. Additionally, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has not shown the form that helped the Golden Knights win the Western Conference last year and has an .897 save percentage while allowing 10 goals thus far.

The Golden Knights are 8-3 at home in the playoffs, racking up 42 goals and have scored three or more in eight of those contests.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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This is a rubber meets the road game for DeBoer, who must find a way to slow down Vegas’ rampaging second line. That task becomes more difficult since Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant has the final line change as the home team.

There is always talk of teams offensively loading their lines, but there is nothing to say DeBoer cannot do the same with Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns in short bursts just to change momentum at times. That might be the only major shake-up San Jose can make, especially if Vlasic is forced to miss a second straight game and Thornton suspended.

All that said, Vegas has looked like the team that won the West last spring. The Golden Knights are rolling their four lines and have one that is nuclear at the moment. And with Jones so shaky in net for the Sharks, that may be enough to go to San Jose 3-1.

Prediction: Golden Knights -155

Full-Game Total Pick

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To a degree, the Sharks have lived up to their M.O. heading into the postseason — a team that can score goals in bunches but prone to giving up plenty of scoring chances. Where it has all gone sideways is the breakdowns inside San Jose’s zone against the Vegas forecheck as opposed to giving up odd-man rushes.

As stated previously, Fleury has yet to play an “A” game, and that lends into the confidence in taking the over. The Sharks have scored goals in pairs or bunches in each game of this series, and that trend will likely continue in an up-and-down game.

Prediction: OVER 6.5 goals (-105)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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Given how well the Knights’ second line is playing, coupled with their special-teams proficiency throughout the series, there is plenty of confidence in them getting four past Jones or even chasing him for a second time in this series.

Prediction: Golden Knights OVER 3.5 goals (Even)

Half-Time Side Pick

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Despite leading after 20 minutes only in Game 3, the Golden Knights are worth the flyer at that much plus-money laying the half-goal. Remember, Vegas has outscored San Jose 14-7 in the first period of the seven meetings between the teams and had four multigoal first periods versus the Sharks.

Prediction: Golden Knights -0.5 goals (+140)

Half-Time Total Bet

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Given how the teams have found creases against the other’s defense all series and all season, especially in the last two games with nine combined first-period goals, there is little reason to believe they will slow down in this contest.

Prediction: OVER 1.5 goals (-170)

Half-Time Prop Prediction

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Being home and showing a consistent jump at the start of periods, this play offers a better return than the -170 for a goal in the first 10 minutes and is arguably a better pick given how well the Golden Knights have played of late.

Prediction: Golden Knights to score first (-140)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.