What Mark Stone is doing for the Vegas Golden Knights through three games against the San Jose Sharks should come as no surprise.
Stone has an NHL-best six goals and is tied for first on the team with eight points, already matching his career best in the postseason set during the Ottawa Senators’ run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2017 in 16 fewer games. As part of Vegas’ second line that was built through free agency last summer (Paul Stastny) and separate trades in September (Max Pacioretty) and February (Stone), the trio have combined to record 22 of the Golden Knights’ 35 points.
“They’ve eaten us up this series so far,” said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. “We haven’t had an answer for them. You get three really good players playing at a high level right now. That’s part of the issue, and we have to find an answer to slow those guys down.”
A hat trick and five-point night during a 6-3 win in Game 3 only further cemented how good of a player Stone is and how important he’s been to the Golden Knight’s lineup.
“That’s one of the dominant games I’ve ever seen from a player in the playoffs,” said Pacioretty.
When the Sharks mounted a brief comeback to cut the Golden Knights’ lead from 5-1 to 5-3, there was one simple solution to stop the onslaught, according to Nate Schmidt.
“We sent Mark Stone out there,” he said.
Stone, who signed an eight-year, $76M extension following the consummation of the trade, immediately clicked with his new team, scoring five times and recording 11 points in the final 18 games of the regular season. He hasn’t need any sort of adjustment period following his years in Ottawa, and certainly going from a lottery team to a Cup contender breeds quite a bit of inspiration.
“I just love being here,” Stone said. “I love playing in Las Vegas. I love my teammates, the fans, the city. This is why I came here, I want to play playoff hockey. We’ve had some success, sure, but we can’t dwell on it. We have to be good professionals and continue to get better.”
The Golden Knights’ second line is one of a handful of issues facing the Sharks ahead of Game 4. Joe Thornton will miss the game due to suspension and Regular Season Martin Jones appears to have returned after a solid Game 1 performance.
As DeBoer said, San Jose needs to find answers as they face a hole that could be too deep to dig out from.
Game 4 of Golden Knights-Sharks is Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN (Live stream)