Joe Pavelski took a puck off his chin to score the opening goal and the San Jose Sharks raced past the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory Wednesday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.
Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Evander Kane added goals in a wild second period that featured heavy hitting, a parade to the penalty box and the high intensity expected in a series between two franchises that have become fierce rivals in just two seasons.
Tomas Hertl added an empty-net goal and Martin Jones made 24 saves to get San Jose started off right in this series heading into Game 2 on Friday night.
Mark Stone scored both goals for the Golden Knights, who struggled to generate much offense at all against a Sharks team that has appeared to shake off a late-season slide in time for the postseason. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves.
The captain set the tone for the Sharks with his goal in the first period and then his presence on the ice in the second despite playing hurt thanks to taking a puck to his face.
With the Sharks on the power play, Pavelski went to the front of the net, where he is usually so adept at tipping pucks with his stick for goals. Burns’ point shot came in high and hit him in the chin instead before bouncing into the net.
Pavelski was unable even to celebrate, heading straight to the dressing room for treatment while the crowd roared at the series-opening goal. There was concern in the arena when Pavelski didn’t come out to start the second but he re-emerged early in the period with a bloody mouth and a full shield to protect his injured face.
Things then got wild early in the period following a series of penalties. After coincidental minors to San Jose’s Brenden Dillon and Jonathan Marchessault left the teams playing four on four, the Sharks went on a power play when Deryk Engelland was called for a trip.
That was quickly negated when Pavelski was called for tripping, creating the rare 3-on-3 in the playoffs. The Sharks capitalized when Erik Karlsson fed Burns, who beat Fleury from the top of the circle with a wrister to make it 2-0.
Then with the teams back at 4-on-4 less than a minute later, Joe Thornton set up Vlasic in the slot for the goal that made it 3-0.
The Golden Knights got on the board seconds after Pavelski’s penalty ended when Stone got inside of Burns at the side of the net to knock in a loose puck.
But the Sharks regained the three-goal lead with 17.1 seconds remaining in the period when Kane deftly deflected a perfect pass from Karlsson at the point past Fleury.
Stone scored late in the third on a power play to make it 4-2. But Jones stopped Reilly Smith on a breakaway with less than three minutes left and Hertl sealed it with his empty-netter.
The Sharks went into the series looking to avoid the slow starts that have plagued them against Vegas the past two seasons. The Golden Knights had scored in the first five minutes in eight of 14 meetings, including all four this season.
But San Jose didn’t even allow a shot on goal in the first five minutes, spending most of the time in Vegas’ zone. The Sharks then got on the board late in the period in painful fashion with Pavelski’s goal after fourth-liner Micheal Haley drew a penalty on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for the game’s first power play.
NOTES: Karlsson had two assists in his second game back after missing 17 games with a groin injury. ... Fleury has allowed at least four goals in all three games since missing nearly three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Game 2 is Friday night in San Jose.