SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — William Karlsson and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights proved they can handle some adversity just as well as they can thrive as front-runners like they did most of their inaugural season.
The Golden Knights bounced back after allowing a late tying goal in regulation when Karlsson scored 8:17 into overtime to lead Vegas to a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night and a 2-1 series lead.
“I think it’s good for the morale,” Karlsson said. “We showed great attitude. Again, they came back. It was tough, too, but we gave someone a chance to be an overtime hero.”
Karlsson was that hero — just as he has been so much this season. He scored 43 goals in the regular season and has added three more this series, but none was bigger than the wrist shot in transition that beat Martin Jones high to the stick side, sending the Golden Knights into a wild celebration around the player knows as Wild Bill.
It was an impressive bounce back from their first loss of the playoffs in double overtime at home in Game 2 and wouldn’t have been possible without Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 39 saves to hold off an early push by the Sharks and then robbed Logan Couture with a glove save in overtime.
“I was looking at the guy with puck. I just tried to follow the pass and get out there a bit and I had a little time to react on it,” Fleury said. “It was a good feeling.”
The Sharks rallied to tie the game and force a second straight overtime with two goals in the third period. Evander Kane scored just seconds after the end of a power play midway through the third to set the stage for Hertl.
Hertl drove to the net with a strong power move. With the Sharks swarming in front of Fleury, Hertl whacked at a loose puck and knocked it in for the equalizer with 1:57 to go, sending the towel-waving crowd into a frenzy.
“I believe our game’s there and I think everyone in here would tell you that,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “We got caught on the wrong end of it tonight. We had a big one the other night.”
Colin Miller, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith scored in a span of less than five minutes in the second period to put the Golden Knights in control, but they couldn’t hold onto the lead.
Timo Meier opened the scoring with a power-play goal for the Sharks, but undisciplined play in the second period helped erase that lead and put San Jose in a hole.
Brenden Dillon held David Perron to give Vegas a power play less than a minute after Meier’s one-timer off a perfect cross-ice pass from Chris Tierney gave the Sharks the lead.
San Jose had an 11-1 edge in shots on goal in the period at that point as the Sharks were controlling the play. But that quickly turned as James Neal held the puck below the goal line and fed Miller with a pass that Marc-Edouard Vlasic nearly broke up for a tap-in that tied the game.
About three minutes later, Hertl was called for roughing Neal well behind the play, giving the Golden Knights another chance with the man advantage.
They converted again when Marchessault one-timed a cross-ice pass from Alex Tuch past Jones to give Vegas the lead.
Smith then capped the three goals in 4:46 when Marchessault fed Karlsson, who was left alone at the side of the net. He deftly sent a blind, backhand pass through the crease to Smith, who tapped it in for the 3-1 lead.
“He’s got eyes in the back of his head sometimes,” Smith said. “He’s a great player and he makes great plays.”
The Sharks came out energized by a raucous crowd and the presence of celebrity door opener and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in their first home game of the series.
San Jose got 16 shots on goal in the first period, but were unable to get anything past Fleury, who rebounded well from his first loss of the postseason.
“To come out of that first period 0-0, we need to find a way to get the lead,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’re chasing the game the whole series here. Even when we have a quick start like tonight, Fleury is shutting the door and finding the way to let them hang around until they can get something going, which is what happened.”
NOTES: Sharks F Joonas Donskoi (lower body) sat out. Chris Tierney took his place on the top line with Barclay Goodrow slotting in on the third line. … F Tomas Tatar returned after missing the past four games as a healthy scratch. He took the place of Ryan Carpenter.
More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey