Now that’s how you win a hockey game.
The win marks just the second time this season that the Knights have won three games in a row, and it’s the Knights’ fourth win in the last five games. Vegas (12-12-1) is now tied with the third-place Anaheim Ducks with 25 points and holds a 6-1-1 record against Pacific Division opponents this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his second straight shutout, stopping all 33 shots San Jose sent his way. Remarkably, it was Fleury’s second shutout in the last two days, as he started both legs of Vegas’ back-to-back; it was also his third shutout in the last 10 days, further adding to his league-leading total of five on the season, one more than he managed in 46 games last year.
The game started with a bang as William Karlsson scored the fastest goal in franchise history, netting his sixth of the season just 14 seconds into the opening frame.
Vegas added three more tallies in the first period as Max Pacioretty extended his point streak to five games with his second two-goal performance in the last three games.
His power-play goal at 9:29 of the first, which gave Vegas a 3-0 lead, was particularly impressive as he roofed a one-timer over the shoulder of Sharks netminder Aaron Dell.
The Knights took a commanding 5-0 lead on a William Carrier strike early in the second period, and Alex Tuch added one for good measure nearly six minutes into the third, giving him 12 points in his last 10 games. Colin Miller lit the lamp for the second game in a row after going scoreless through the first 23 games of the season.
It wasn’t a night without incident, though, as Evander Kane delivered a knee-on-knee hit on Tomas Nosek. Kane argued the subsequent tripping minor and was then assessed a game misconduct after being called for abuse of officials and abusive language; Sharks bench boss Pete DeBoer was tossed from the game shortly thereafter.
Like yesterday’s 2-0 win over Calgary, tonight’s performance was a true team win, with everyone up and down the lineup contributing to a complete 60-minute effort. The Golden Knights finally looked like the Golden Knights from last season, with all four lines rolling and playing committed two-way hockey; that’s what it took to beat the top two teams in the division on back-to-back days, and the Golden Knights delivered.
But it wouldn’t be Golden Knights hockey without some vintage Fleury saves, including this beauty while short-handed.
San Jose gets a shorthanded chance and Marc-Andre Fleury goes full Hasek to keep the puck out of the net. pic.twitter.com/vXJoh921ls— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) November 25, 2018
Fleury has stopped 81 of the last 83 shots he’s faced, improving his goals-against average to 2.33 and his save percentage to a more respectable .913. He is now tied for first in the league in wins (12) and tied for 23rd (with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne) on the NHL’s all-time shutouts list (53).
The Knights may have scored six goals, but Dell was forced to make several spectacular saves, including this one on Reilly Smith, who extended his point streak to five games with two assists and six shots in 16:23 of ice time.
Aaron Dell absolutely robs Reilly Smith on a shorthanded 2-on-1 chance. pic.twitter.com/rAElE9o2aJ— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) November 25, 2018
Vegas didn’t sit back with the comfortable lead, either. The Knights were particularly effective in the third frame with a 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage of 67.86, outshooting the Sharks 15-8 in the period. The Knights were able to get chances in tight and protect the area in front of Fleury’s crease, as this heat map shows.
It was yet another game in which the second line of Pacioretty, Tuch and Cody Eakin gelled. The trio combined for four points and continues to get it done, game after game.
Pacioretty, who scored two goals through the first 16 games of the season, now has six goals in his last five. His recent production is very encouraging, especially considering the Knights have anxiously awaited a breakout from the five-time 30-goal scorer.
Getting goals from three out of four lines is a sign that things may be starting to click, though it’s too soon to say whether the Knights are truly back.
The 2018-19 campaign has been marked by consistent inconsistency, so maintaining this momentum moving forward, especially on the upcoming three-game road trip, will be key.
Don’t look now, but the Knights have won three in a row (all against division opponents) and are very much back in the playoff picture.