SAN JOSE, Calif. -- An ideal start, improved goaltending, greater attention to detail and a little more discipline.
The San Jose Sharks knew all along what the formula was for beating the Vegas Golden Knights in their first-round playoff series. The hard part was actually executing the plan.
It came together Thursday, as the Sharks jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period and got 30 saves from goalie Martin Jones in a 5-2 win over the Golden Knights in Game 5 at SAP Center.
Trailing three-games-to-one and with their season in the balance, Tomas Hertl scored two goals, including a critical insurance goal in the third period, to send the series back to Las Vegas for Game 6 on Sunday.
Logan Couture, Barclay Goodrow and Joe Pavelski also scored for San Jose, although Couture had to leave the game with 5:30 left in the third period after he was caught in the mouth by a Jon Marchessault high stick. Marchessault was penalized, and Hertl's second goal came 15 seconds later.
Jones' best save of the night and the series came moments after Marchessault scored to cut the Sharks' lead to 3-2 with 8:24 left in regulation time.
William Karlsson fed Reilly Smith a perfect pass on a Golden Knights' 2-on-1, but Jones stretched out his right pad to make the save and preserve San Jose's one-goal lead.
Erik Karlsson added two assists, including one on Hertl's first goal that gave the Sharks a lead just 1:16 into the first period. Couture gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead at the 11:00 minute mark of the first, following up a shot on goal by Timo Meier to score his third of the playoffs.
The Sharks had been plagued by bad starts in each of the last three games, giving up the first goal 58 seconds into Game 2, 16 seconds into Game 3 and 1:11 into Game 4. Jones was chased in games 2 and 4.
Vegas cut the Sharks' lead in half with 30 seconds left in the first period as a pass attempt by Reilly Smith from behind the Sharks' goal line went off Karlsson's stick and off the back of Jones' leg before it slid in for a power play goal.
The Sharks responded in the second period, as Goodrow deflected a Justin Braun shot past Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his first career NHL playoff goal and a 3-1 San Jose lead.
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