There’s no doubt anymore when it comes to Tomas Nosek — he’s not playing on the Vegas Golden Knights’ fourth line this year.
The Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Sunday at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas closes its exhibition slate with a 6-1 record. The next time a game will be played in this building, banners will be raised, memories will be had, and the Golden Knights will officially begin Year 2 as an NHL franchise Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
When the puck drops, lineups will be different, especially on the bottom six. One for sure that will not be camped as a final-three forward is Nosek.
The Golden Knights scored three shorthanded goals on Sunday — two of them came off the stick of Nosek. The first: an uncharacteristic blunder from Brent Burns, to remind you all it’s preseason. Nosek gets enough on the puck to force Burns to slip and lose possession, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare passed it to a streaking No. 92, who beat Martin Jones through his right blocker.
GOAL. Tomas Nosek scores on the 2-on-none shorthanded breakaway. pic.twitter.com/BcvEtZFtPK— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 1, 2018
Second goal was also assisted by Bellemare and the eyes in the back of his head. No. 41 beat Burns to the puck in the offensive zone, delivered a backhand to a cutting Nosek and got Jones upstairs.
“Every other game throughout the season, you start to gain more confidence,” Nosek said. “You have a chance to play with guys like [William] Karlsson or [Jonathan] Marchessault, or [Max] Pacioretty or [Paul] Stastny, you gain confidence.”
Nosek has played a lot of third-line forward in preseason; an indicator that his performance late in the Golden Knights’ playoff run was no fluke. He had three points playing with Marchessault and Karlsson in the first preseason game and has been steady since.
Nosek also saw some action on the second line with Pacioretty and Stastny, but that was primarily due to Alex Tuch leaving the game in the second period with an unspecified injury. Coach Gerard Gallant said Tuch will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
Lines didn’t matter in this game. Special teams ruled the night with Nosek’s two shorthanded goals, Pacioretty’s shorthanded tally in the second period, and Reilly Smith scoring a power-play goal.
Marc-Andre Fleury won his second straight preseason start by making 33 saves. Defenseman Nick Holden scored his first goal of the preseason thanks to stellar stick work by Marchessault, through Burns’ legs, behind Jones. So pretty.
Jones finished with 22 saves. Newly-acquired superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson scored a goal for the Sharks, a power-play goal in the second period.
“Obviously, you saw in that goal, he’s a smart player,” Fleury said about facing the new-look Sharks for the first time. “Shifty, sneaky. Skates well. I think they’re a good team overall.”
It’s very difficult to gauge preseason. Gallant said he’d rather be 6-1 than 1-6, and he’s happy with that record. There’s a fine line of what’s good and what’s expected. Vegas is not beating this San Jose team like this four times. Burns and Karlsson being neutralized won’t be a recurring thing. But that doesn’t take away from the Golden Knights playing well.
“I’m happy we played well in preseason,” Gallant said. “I know it doesn’t mean nothing. I think tonight means more than the other games because both teams had pretty good lineups and I thought we played well.”
The Golden Knights will be off tomorrow, as they will take to the community in remembrance of the one-year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. Then practice and, maybe, media day later this week before the fun begins Thursday.
Buckle up, folks.