All good things must come to an end.
After a pair of convincing wins against Vancouver and Colorado earlier in the week, the Vegas Golden Knights were roundly thumped by the San Jose Sharks to the tune of a 5-2 loss.
It seemed as though from puck drop, this was not the Knights’ night, as they mustered just a pair of shots on goal in the opening period, despite earning three power plays. However, thanks to some excellent goaltending from Calvin Pickard, Vegas managed to escape the frame with the score knotted at zero.
The second period was largely an abject disaster, as the Knights drew a four-pack of penalties, three of which led to San Jose goals. Brenden Dillon would also add an even-strength tally before the period had concluded.
Vegas got some life in the third period, finding twine twice with the man advantage, with David Perron and Teemu Pulkkinen picking up their first goals of the preseason. Former Dallas Stars pivot Cody Eakin had helpers on both and Nate Schmidt picked up an assist as well. The comeback was short-lived though as Tomas Hertl scored just 68 seconds after Pulkkinen’s tally to put the Sharks up for good, 5-2.
Now that we have had some time to collect ourselves after the first-ever loss in team history, here are a few of the things that stood out:
Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody! (Except the Knights)
San Jose outshot Vegas 34-17 overall in this contest (and 23-12 at 5-on-5). Yikes. Things were slightly better on the shot attempt front, but still the Knights were outshot at a 3-to-2 ratio, and from the below graph, it is clear that the Sharks had far more chances from high-danger areas.
Luca Sbisa had another rough night
After a so-so showing against the Colorado Avalanche that could ostensibly be chalked up to rust, Sbisa put forth another poor showing Thursday night. The 27-year-old defenseman was a black hole on the possession front, as the knights were outshot 19-8 with him on the ice during 5-on-5 play. His penalty killing left a lot to be desired as well. One beleaguered Knights defenseman did get out of the doghouse, however, as Griffin Reinhart played his best game of the preseason and was the lone d-man with a positive shot differential.
A tale of two Wongs
Tyler Wong was awe-inspiring against Vancouver, recording a hat-trick and chipping in an assist for good measure. Against San Jose, the 21-year-old Chicago Wolves signee was anything but, often forcing plays and being somewhat careless with the puck. The analytics crowd would likely agree, as his 23.53% Corsi For Percentage was the lowest on the team, followed by another Sunday night standout, Cody Glass (25%).
So this is what NHL talent looks like
While Colorado did put the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen on the ice Tuesday night, Vegas had yet to face anything like the star trio of Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Martin Jones (all of whom made the Pacific Division all-star team last year). The Knights were simply outclassed many steps of the way, which should serve as a reminder of the hard battles they have ahead of them in the regular season. And that Tomas Hertl guy, he’s pretty good too.
Picks or it didn’t happen
This was our first chance to see Calvin Pickard in action and while an .853 save percentage looks rather shabby, it would be wise to note that he had a .917 mark at even-strength and was often under assault thanks to the shortcomings of the Clayton Stoner-Luca Sbisa pairing. The young goalie looked solid on a few breakaways, or rather we assume so, as we could not actually view the game with our eyes, which brings me to my next point...
See no evil
Don’t get it twisted—Dan D’Uva is incredible at his job, and not just because of the New Jersey shoutout on the broadcast. But the nature of hockey, with its fast pace and snap-of-your-fingers momentum shifts, lends itself far more to television than radio. At least Golden Knights fans had one fewer bodily sense that could make them upset about tonight’s contest.
Vegas will take the ice next against Anaheim this Sunday at 5:00 p.m. (PT). And since this is hockey we are talking about, let’s send you off with a relevant tune from some of Canada’s favorite sons: