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LAS VEGAS — It looked like it was going to be so easy.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights swept their first-ever playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings Roberto Perez Jersey , then opened the second round of the Western Conference playoffs with a stunningly lopsided 7-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
But the Sharks won Game 2 in double overtime 4-3, and bounced back from a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3 to blank the Golden Knights 4-0 on Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Still, Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said it’s no time to push the panic button heading into Friday night’s Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena.
“We’re 2-2 and we’ve got home ice,” Gallant said Thursday afternoon. “It’s best two out of three. There’s no panic. We get ready to play.”
Vegas is 32-11-2 on its home ice this season. However, San Jose won the last meeting there and comes in with momentum, winning two of the last three games in the series.
“We’re playing in the second round of the playoffs,” Vegas forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “We’re playing a good team. It’s how we handle it. We had times in (Wednesday night’s shutout loss) that we played better in the game, but for 60 minutes they were the better team.”
Gallant took it one step further, questioning the effort of a few of his players in the loss.
“It’s about playing fast,” Gallant said. “When you don’t play fast, you give San Jose a chance to break out and that’s what happens. They played fast last night and we didn’t have a chance to break out. It all goes hand-in-hand.
“When our forecheck is good we play a real good game. … When 10 to 15 percent of the guys don’t show up and forecheck like all the other guys http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/landon-collins-jersey , that makes the biggest difference in the world. San Jose had 20 guys competing and playing hard last night, and that’s why they were the better team.”
One thing is for certain. The Sharks have adjusted to the speed of the Golden Knights after the Game 1 blowout and put a premium on forechecking. They’re an overtime loss in Game 3 away from leading the series, 3-1.
“There’s a bunch of pieces that go into that,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said of slowing down the Vegas attack. “Puck management is a big part of it. They feed off turnovers and transition as quickly as any team in the league. That’s obviously a huge part of it. Your attention to detail through the neutral zone, top of the circles in your end to top of the circles in the other end, has to be really good to handle that.”
“When we make them come through us, 200 feet through all five guys, we’re a lot tougher team to play against,” Sharks goalie Martin Jones said.
Jones, yanked after allowing five goals on 13 shots in the opener, bounced back to garner his sixth career playoff shutout on Wednesday night Cheap Justin Reid Jersey , stopping 34 shots in the process. San Jose also was a perfect 5-of-5 on the penalty kill.
“We’ve done a better job of not forcing plays through the neutral zone,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “If you don’t have it, just chip it and forecheck. That at least gives our defensemen a chance to get their guy and step up on them so they’re not flying through the neutral zone.”
Still, San Jose must find a way to win at least one more time at T-Mobile Arena, where a Game 7 would be played if needed on Tuesday, to advance to the Western Conference finals.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” Vegas center Cody Eakin said of Wednesday night’s loss. “It’s 2-2. Two of the (remaining) three are at home. We have the advantage.”
Madison Bumgarner isn’t easily impressed in pregame warmups.
Thursday night was different.
”I don’t put a lot of stock into the bullpen before the game, but today I could tell that the stuff was picking up a little,” the 2014 World Series MVP said.
Bumgarner pitched eight innings of three-hit ball for his first win this season, Mark Melancon earned his first save in a year and the San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 3-0.
”It was the Madison we know,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
San Francisco won for the fourth time in five games and sent the last-place Padres to their fifth straight loss.
Bumgarner (1-2) struck out eight and walked two in his best start since coming off the disabled list. He also drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly.
”It was the type of game we’ve seen so many times from him Rich Hill Los Angeles Dodgers Jersey ,” Bochy said. ”We needed it because their guy pitched well, too.”
Bumgarner outdueled Tyson Ross (5-5), who gave up one run and four hits in seven innings. Ross struck out three and walked three.
”This is what you want to do as a pitcher, to go toe-to-toe against a guy,” he said. ”You just have to give your team a chance to win. He was little bit better tonight.”
Bumgarner began the season on the DL with a broken pinkie on his pitching hand sustained in his final spring training start when he was hit by a line drive. The ace left-hander was 0-2 with a 4.67 ERA in three previous outings since being reinstated.
Bumgarner’s sacrifice fly scored Pablo Sandoval in the fifth. Sandoval singled leading off the inning and Joe Panik followed with a double.
It was the fourth time in his career Bumgarner made a scoreless start and had the game-winning RBI, tying Stephen Strasburg and Fernando Valenzuela for the most such games by any pitcher in the last 40 years, according to STATS.
The Padres’ best scoring chance came in the fifth, when Jose Pirela was thrown out at home trying to score from second on Manuel Margot’s one-out double to deep right field. Giants catcher Buster Posey tagged out Pirela after a perfect relay from Andrew McCutchen and Panik.
”We had one chance offensively and we ran through a stop sign, which took away that one opportunity,” Padres manager Andy Green said.
Melancon, who started the season on the DL with a right elbow flexor strain Youth Tyquan Lewis Jersey , pitched the ninth for his first save since June 20, 2017.
Bumgarner was winless in his six previous starts against the Padres. He was 0-4 with a 4.73 ERA during that stretch.
Padres: OF Wil Myers (left oblique strain) and Maton (right lat strain) were reinstated from the 10-day DL, and RHP Colin Rea (right shoulder strain) was activated from the 60-day DL. … OF Franchy Cordero (right elbow bone spur) was transferred to the 60-day DL and RHP Phil Hughes (right rhomboid strain) was placed on the 10-day DL. … OF Franmil Reyes was optioned to Triple-A El Paso. … RHP Bryan Mitchell (right elbow impingement) had an MRI on Wednesday that showed inflammation in the affected area but no ligament damage, Green said. Mitchell is expected to start throwing in four or five days.
Giants: SS Brandon Crawford was reinstated from the paternity list and was in the starting lineup. … INF Kelby Tomlinson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. … RHP Hunter Strickland (broken right pinkie) will have more X-rays in two weeks to determine if two pins he had surgically inserted on Wednesday can be removed. The 29-year-old reliever was injured when he punched a door in frustration after a blown save against Miami on Monday. … RHP Johnny Cueto (right elbow inflammation) will throw 40 pitches in a rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. … RHP Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder tightness) threw 73 pitches in his second rehab start with Sacramento.
LHP Clayton Richard (6-6, 4.31 ERA) will make his team-leading 16th start for the Padres. He’s 5-2 with a 3.04 ERA over his last eight. Giants RHP Chris Stratton (8-4, 4.22) hasn’t allowed a run over 13 2/3 innings in two career starts against San Diego.
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