After a disappointing 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 4, the Vegas Golden Knights looked to get back on track at home on Friday.
Heading into a pivotal Game 5, this was essentially a must-win for Vegas, especially considering how dominant the Sharks looked at home in Game 4.
Vegas came out with a much better start than the previous game, they played with more energy and was more aggressive on the forecheck.
Martin Jones picked up where he left off from Game 4 and was spectacular for the Sharks in the first. He made key saves early on and did not give the energetic Vegas crowd anything to cheer about for most of the period.
San Jose weathered the storm early on and had some good pushback near the second half of the first.
Overall it was a very evenly matched period with both teams trading scoring chances both ways. Vegas had the edge statistically outshooting the Sharks 15-7 and was also the more physical team dishing out 26 hits to San Jose's 15.
It looked the game was going to be a 0-0 tie going into the intermission until James Neal banged a rebound from a point shot with only three seconds left to give his team a 1-0 lead going into the intermission.
Vegas dominates in the second
San Jose tried to even the score early on and had several good opportunities on the powerplay but Marc-Andre Fleury was on his game, turning everything aside to help his team preserve the lead.
Minutes later, Vegas a powerplay of their own and they executed it nicely to extend the lead. They broke down San Jose's defense with quick cross-seam passes which created a decent one-time shot and resulted in a juicy rebound for Alex Tuch at the 4:52 mark to make the game 2-0.
The goal seemed to have given the Knights extra life... meanwhile the Sharks did little to respond. San Jose was hemmed in their own zone for much of the period.
Vegas kept pressing and were able to strike again less than five minutes later. Erik Haula found the back of the net, off a harmless-looking bank shot to beat Martin Jones for a 3-0 lead.
Even though the shots were close (13-10 Vegas) in the period, the Golden Knights dominated the second and looked like they were on their way to another victory.
Vegas let their foot off the gas pedal
The Sharks came out much harder in the third, but they just couldn't buy a goal early on. It just seemed like their night was over as Fleury looked unbeatable between the pipes, and his defenders helped take away a lot of second-chance opportunities.
On the other hand, despite holding back a bit Vegas was able to cash in on another opportunity as Alex Tuch was able to tuck in a beautiful saucer pass at 8:36 to make the game 4-0.
Not only was that the end of the night for Martin Jones, it also seemed like the night was over for his team as well.
But to San Jose's credit, they never gave up and put up a very good fight in the final 11 minutes of the game.
Kevin Labanc got the Sharks on the scoreboard at 9:35, and a couple minutes later Tomas Hertl scored his sixth of these playoffs for the Sharks to make the game 4-2 at 11:44.
They didn't stop there as Mikkel Bodker found a loose puck near the crease and popped in his first of the playoffs to make the game 4-3 with four minutes left.
San Jose pressed and almost tied the game on several occasions until Jonathan Marchessault finally gave his team the insurance goal on an empty-netter with just over a minute left.
Vegas came out with much better energy to start off the game. They looked dominant for the first 40 minutes but let their foot off the gas pedal by the second half of the third. They could have easily let this game slip away if Fleury wasn't as sharp in net for them early on.
Nonetheless, Vegas can make history again as they head back to Shark tank with a chance to close the series and advance to the next round.
But from what we have seen so far, this series is far from over and can very likely return to Sin City for an epic Game 7.
Can Vegas wrap it up in Game 6, or will the series go the distance? Let us know what you think!