LAS VEGAS – Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots for his third shutout of the playoffs, and the Vegas Golden Knights went on to beat the San Jose Sharks 7-0 Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Cody Eakin, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault scored 1:31 apart early in the first period to get Vegas going. Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller and James Neal also scored, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson each had three assists, and Marchessault and David Perron added two each.
Fleury, who improved to 5-0 in the playoffs, got his 13th career shutout in the playoffs – and second straight. He also blanked Los Angeles 1-0 in Game 4 of the first round.
The Golden Knights, the first team from the opening round to advance, showed no sign of rust after having nine days off since their first-round sweep over the Kings. From the opening puck drop, Vegas skated fast, its passes were crisp, and the players were in synch with one another. It has now outscored its opposition 14-3 in five games.
San Jose, which swept Anaheim in the first round, looked out of sorts by the time Vegas put its first three in the net just 6:02 into the game, and the Shakrs lost their cool early in the third period, when Evander Kane was ejected for cross-checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the face after a whistle.
Martin Jones, who stopped 128 of 132 shots in the first round against the Ducks, was pulled a little more than three minutes into the second period after allowing five goals on 13 shots. Backup goalie Aaron Dell came in and finished with 19 saves.
It was the Sharks’ worst loss in playoff history. Detroit blanked San Jose 6-0 in the 1995 Western Conference semifinals.
Eakin started the scoring barrage when he deflected Brayden McNabb’s wrist shot from the point past Jones 4:31 into the game. Before the public-address announcer could trumpet the game’s first goal, Haula finished Tuch’s rush to the net 26 seconds later with a sniper past Jones to double Vegas’ lead.
Marchessault made it 3-0 when he fired a shot from inside the circle past Jones, notching his first career playoff goal. Tuch capped the scoring in the opening period when he sliced through four defenders, made a swift move to his forehand for a wrist shot that beat Jones for a power-play goal.
Jones’ night ended 3:28 into the second when Smith threaded a pass to Theodore, who promptly tipped it into the twine to give Vegas a 5-0 lead.
While Kane was called for a game misconduct, Joe Pavelski went off at the same time for slashing, giving Vegas a 5-3 edge on the ice. The Golden Knights took full advantage, as Miller’s one-timer blazed past Dell to make it 6-0 at 4:32 of the third.
Neal, who had a goal overturned in the second period, extended the lead to 7-0 when he took Perron’s pass and wrapped it around past Dell on the power play at 8:09.
NOTES: Vegas’ four goals in the first period marked the fifth time this season it netted four in one period. … It was the third time this season the Sharks allowed four goals in a period. … No. 1 UFC featherweight contender Brian Ortega, who fill fight champion Max Holloway for the title on July 7, was in attendance.
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