Sharks' fourth line finds the back of the net and its form in Game 4 win

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SAN JOSE -- In the immediate aftermath of the Sharks’ Game 4 win Wednesday night, forward Marcus Sorensen may have been the only person at SAP Center who wasn’t immediately familiar with the details of his falling, first-period goal that opened the scoring in San Jose’s series-tying 4-0 win. 

“I don’t even know [how I fell],” Sorensen said. “I don’t remember. I haven’t seen it, either.”

For the uninitiated, including, apparently, the Swede himself: Sorensen grabbed Eric Fehr’s pass just outside of the trapezoid behind and protected the puck from Vegas Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch. Fehr tied up Tuch and wasn’t called for interference, while Sorensen had nothing but open ice as he curled into the slot.

“With that speed, it’s got to be hard to cover him,” Fehr said. 

Vegas defensemen Jon Merrill and Colin Miller tried. The former abandoned Melker Karlsson in front of the net and dove desperately as the latter pulled Sorensen’s left skate back. Sorensen then fell forward, and so did goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but Sorensen lifted the puck over the Golden Knights goaltender and into the top corner of the gaping net.

His fourth goal of the postseason, and San Jose’s first of Game 4, ultimately stood as the game-winner. It marked just the second time the Sharks had scored first all series. Of course, San Jose scored second, third, and fourth, too, tying the series at two games apiece and ultimately forcing an eventual Game 6. 

“[The first goal] was huge,” head coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ve been chasing the game all series.

“I think we've had chances in the last two games to get out in front, but I think Fleury's been exceptional, especially early in games to keep us off the board.”

Five-on-five, the Sharks out-attempted the Golden Knights 35-30 in the first periods of Games 2 and 3. They outshot them 22-12 at full strength, per Natural Stat Trick, but Fleury stopped every one.

Sorensen’s goal, then, was San Jose’s first in a first period all series. It was also the fourth line’s first since the first round. 

The group fueled San Jose’s first-round sweep of the Anaheim Ducks, but the Sharks did not score a five-on-five goal against the Golden Knights with Sorensen, Fehr, and Karlsson on the ice before Game 4. San Jose was also outshot (7-4) and out-attempted (11-8) when the trio was deployed in the second round games preceding Wednesday, according to Natural Stat Trick.

In Game 4, the fourth line returned to its first-round form. San Jose generated as many five-on-five scoring chances (four) with Sorensen, Fehr, and Karlsson playing together on Wednesday as their previous two games as a line. 

The trio also won the five-on-five possession battle (60 percent corsi-for percentage, best of the Sharks’ four lines), and San Jose outshot Vegas 7-4 with them on the ice. They even managed to pin the high-flying trio of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith in their own zone during a shift in which Vegas’ first line and San Jose’s fourth were matched up. 

"We want to contribute every game,” Fehr said after Game 4. “Whether it's having good [offensive-zone] shifts, strong [defensive-zone] shifts, we want to be contributing [and] pulling our piece of the rope. I think we were able to create some energy tonight."

Some energy, as well as a game-winning goal worth a replay or two. 

Especially for the goal-scorer. 

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said the Sharks scored first for the first time this series. That was not correct -- San Jose also scored first in Game 3. We regret this error. 

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