Talk about the perfect shot.
Tomas Hertl opened the scoring for the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 3, ripping a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle, over the glove of St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott and top corner. Perfect.
The Sharks were able to take advantage of a Blues’ turnover in the neutral zone, as they quickly transitioned the puck to Joe Thornton and then to Joe Pavelski and over to Hertl, who finished the play.
The Sharks and Blues entered this game all tied at 1-1 in the Western Conference Final, after San Jose took Game 2.
The Blues may feel they deserved a better result after the first period of Game 3, outshooting San Jose 9-7. (The Sharks had 23 overall shot attempts, versus 18 for the Blues, as per hockeystats.ca.)
Former Washington Capitals head coach Glen Hanlon has taken a new job — managing the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League.
Hanlon, who coached the Capitals from 2003 to 2007, was officially introduced as the Giants’ new general manager on Thursday. The Giants had also been working to land former Penguins coach Mike Johnston and had also been linked in rumors to former NHL bench boss Marc Crawford.
Hanlon’s record behind the Capitals bench was 78-122-9-30. He also previously coached the Swiss national team, but his tenure was short-lived, as both parties agreed to part ways in October of 2015.
“Ron Toigo (Giants owner) was very honest with me,” Hanlon told Postmedia. “He told me that they didn’t want to make any mistakes and they were going to interview anyone they thought was a legitimate candidate.
“In the midst of that, I went and tried to get my name in the hunt for other jobs. You have to do that. There are so many good coaches out there, so many good managers. There are so many good head scouts that want to get into management. You can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen. But this job was my first choice.”
The San Jose Sharks are hoping to ride the momentum from a Game 2 victory in the Western Conference Final. On the other hand, the St. Louis Blues are hoping to take the momentum back. The two teams clash in Game 3 of this series at SAP Center on Thursday.
You can catch the game on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Blues need to eliminate ‘reactionary penalties’: Hitch
Hitchcock said changes were coming — will Paajarvi make playoff debut?
Just for Men: Vlad (The Dad) Tarasenko
Appreciate Burns, but don’t forget about Vlasic
It appears Detroit Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall will not undergo surgery for an ailing knee that bothered him last season.
The 35-year-old hard-hitting Kronwall, who has three years remaining on his seven-year contract worth an annual cap hit of $4.75 million, as per General Fanager, appeared in 64 games for the Red Wings last season, scoring three times and recording 26 points.
Despite his struggles — “It’s been a rough year,” he admitted after the Red Wings were knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round — with the knee injury, surgery seems to have been removed from the equation.
This wasn’t the only news from the Red Wings on Thursday.
Pending unrestricted free agents Brad Richards, 36, and Kyle Quincey, 30, are unlikely to be back in Detroit next season, with GM Ken Holland reportedly telling both players, “I definitely won’t sign them before July 1, if at all.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy began the Eastern Conference Final as the back-up goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Due to an injury to Ben Bishop, he’s now moved into the No. 1 position, and has been especially busy in the past two games of this series. In Wednesday’s Game 3 loss for the Bolts, Vasilevskiy faced 48 shots. He stopped 44 of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins unleashed an unrelenting onslaught that resulted in a 4-2 victory to take the series lead.
In these last two games, the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy has faced 89 shots.
Meanwhile, in the same span, fellow 21-year-old goalie Matt Murray of the Penguins hasn’t been tested with nearly the same frequency — only 49 shots faced.
“He was unreal tonight. What’s obviously upsetting is — what did we give up, 41 the other night? We were on the road, and they were desperate,” Bolts’ head coach Jon Cooper told reporters of Vasilevskiy’s performance.
“But it’s extremely disappointing to give up 48 shots in your home building in a playoff game. That’s unacceptable. So I just feel bad for the kid that he’s keeping us in there and we’re not finding a way to bail him out. The way things have gone these two games, it doesn’t matter who’s in net.”
As for Bishop, Cooper seemed optimistic he could return in this series.