A pair of teams battling for the top spot in the Pacific Division take the ice in Silicon Valley. The Vegas Golden Knights are on the road as they battle the San Jose Sharks Thursday night. Vegas won their second straight as they beat Vancouver 4-1 at home Tuesday night. San Jose won their fifth in a row as they trounced New Jersey 6-2 at home Tuesday. The Golden Knights won both previous meetings this season, including a 5-3 win here on February 8 in the last matchup.
Vegas Golden Knights Seek Third Straight Win vs. Sharks
Vegas won the final two games of their four game homestand after starting with two straight losses as they shut down Vancouver. The Golden Knights look to beat the Sharks for the third time in as many meetings. The Golden Knights enter this one eight points up on the Sharks, 11 on the Kings and 12 on the Ducks in the Pacific Division race. Vegas enters this game 2nd in the league in goals per game as they score 3.4 per contest. The Golden Knights are 8th in the league in goals against as they give up 2.7 per game. Vegas is 11th in power play success as they’ve converted 21.6 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Golden Knights are 14th in the league in penalty killing as they kill off 80.7 percent of their shorthanded chances.
The Golden Knights opened up strong and coasted the rest of the way to a win over Vancouver. Vegas had a 15-7 edge in shots in the opening period and skated off with a 3-0 lead. Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring at the 3:56 mark with his 23rd of the year. William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb assisted on the marker. Less than a minute later, Cody Eakin scored his 10th of the season on assists from Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch at 4:53 to make it 2-0. Pierre-Edouard Bellamire extended the edge to 3-0 with his sixth at 19:27 off assists from Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves. Despite being outshot 11-7 in the second period, Vegas scored the only goal to take a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes. Tomas Tatar bagged his 18th of the season at 14:21 off assists from Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt. In the third period, the Golden Knights were outshot 12-6 and gave up the period’s only goal but still won by a comfortable margin. Marc-Andre Fleury made seven stops before exiting after the opening period: Malcolm Subban made 22 stops over the final two frames as Vegas was outshot 30-28.
San Jose Sharks Go for Sixth Straight Win
San Jose rung up their fifth straight win to keep pace with the Golden Knights and open a little breathing room for a guaranteed playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The Sharks enter this one second in the Pacific Division: they are just four points ahead of the Kings and five ahead of the Ducks. San Jose is eight points behind the Golden Knights for the division lead. San Jose is 13th in the league with a three goal per game average. The Sharks are above average defensively, ranking 8th in the league with 2.7 goals per game allowed. San Jose is 8th in the league on the power play as they convert 21.8 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Sharks are 2nd in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 84.2 percent of their shorthanded situations.
The Sharks jumped out early and piled on to get the win, staying hot in the process. San Jose was outshot 12-9 in the first period but took a 3-1 lead to the dressing room. Eric Fehr opened the scoring with his third of the year at 5:32 with Paul Martin and Brent Burns drawing the assists. After New Jersey tied the game, the Sharks went ahead for good with Joe Pavelski’s power play goal at 12:25 to make it 2-1. His 19th of the season came on assists from Kevin Labanc and Burns. Jannik Hansen made it 3-1 with his first of the year at 15:14 with Dylan DeMelo and Barclay Goodrow drawing the assists. In the second period, San Jose was outshot 9-7 but had the only three goals of the period to make it 6-1 after 40 minutes. Goodrow scored his seventh of the season at 10:38 to make it a 4-1 game off an assist from Brenden Dillon. Logan Couture made it a 5-1 contest with his 30th of the year at 11:18 with Dillon again drawing the helper. Later in the period, Mikkel Boedker bagged his 14th of the season on the power play at 18:20 with Burns and Chris Tierney getting the assists. The third period saw San Jose with a 9-7 edge in shots though they gave up a meaningless goal late for the only tally in the period. Martin Jones made 26 saves in the win for the Sharks, who were outshot 28-25.
- Golden Knights are 4-0 in their last 4 Thursday games
- Golden Knights are 6-0 in their last 6 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game
- Golden Knights are 4-1 in their last 5 road games
- No Key Trends
Both teams are coming off one-sided victories and these are the top two teams in the Pacific Division. Vegas announced that Fleury would not fly with the team for this one: the reports are he could fly by himself before the game or sometime later on the trip but he was injured during the first period after a puck bounced off his mask. San Jose is rolling along with five straight wins but they’ve struggled in their two games against Vegas this season. Look for the Golden Knights to build off those previous contests and make it three in a row.