After a fiery 60-minute game (plus an overtime that was over before you could blink), the Vegas Golden Knights fell to the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in their fifth loss in a row.
The first period was jam-packed with excitement. Vegas came out hungry and took the early lead, courtesy of William Karlsson. San Jose had their fair share of chances as well, but Malcom Subban had a heck of a performance in the first period.
WHAT A SAVE BY SUBBAN pic.twitter.com/5VhhUWroc4— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 31, 2019
Before long, tempers started to flare. A scrum broke out with several players involved, including Vegas’ heavy-hitter Ryan Reaves and San Jose’s Joe Thornton. When referees tried to pry the two away from each other, Thornton pressed the butt-end of his stick against Reaves’ throat. This didn’t sit well with Reaves, who threw a punch despite the referee in between them.
Here's what led to the melee during the commercial break. Appears Joe Thornton put the butt-end of his stick into Ryan Reaves' neck. pic.twitter.com/u3imiT8olN— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 31, 2019
The battle resulted in two-minute minors on both players and an additional ten-minute misconduct for Reaves. While he did leave the ice momentarily, he returned in the second period.
The second period was a battle in itself as well. Within the first minute of the period, Tomas Hertl managed to score on Subban, tying the game up at one goal apiece. Cody Eakin would respond with a backhand goal later on. That was the 21st goal of the season for Vegas’ No. 21.
That's No. 21 for No. 21. pic.twitter.com/v5sx3lIPPT— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 31, 2019
However, San Jose was desperate and looking to draw more blood. Coming off a seven-game losing streak of their own, they were hungry for a victory. With Subban tangled up and unable to mind the net, Evander Kane slipped one past the goal line to tie the game up.
A little later on, Marc-Edouard Vlasic wanted a piece of the action. Right off a faceoff, Vlasic managed to get one off of Subban’s glove, giving San Jose a 3-2 lead.
That lead was very short-lived, though. Karlsson won a faceoff against Hertl, and Shea Theodore scored a goal nearly identical to Vlasic’s not long after, tying the game 3-3.
GOAL. Shea Theodore scores a goal almost identical to Marc-Edouard Vlasic's to tie the game 3-3. pic.twitter.com/KuOnBs4Sic— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 31, 2019
The score would remain the same through the end of regulation. Unfortunately, overtime wasn’t too kind to the Knights. Brent Burns scored the game-winner for San Jose just 22 seconds in, serving Vegas its fifth straight loss.
Nick Holden returned to the lineup for the Knights against San Jose, filling in for Brayden McNabb. During Vegas’ game against the Minnesota Wild, McNabb blocked a shot with his arm that clearly seemed to bother him. While it may not be that big a deal, that may have contributed to McNabb’s absence in the lineup.
At the very last minute, Gallant changed the second line and substituted Paul Stastny with Cody Eakin, citing a minor injury. Instead of the powerhouse dynamic of the Pacioretty-Stastny-Stone line, fans were treated to Eakin, which did seem to work. After all, he did manage to get one past Martin Jones.
After seven straight losses, San Jose may have been just a little bit hungrier than Vegas. They managed to get 34 shots on net to Vegas’ 26, and they were dominant with the puck for most of the game.
Penalties didn’t do Vegas many favors either. After all, a penalty was partially the reason why overtime was so short-lived (Colin Miller had taken a penalty just before the end of regulation).
One thing is certain, though; these teams are more than ready to face off in the postseason. Their performances tonight were just a taste of what could possibly be a seven-course meal in the first round.
With this win, San Jose clinches second place in the Pacific Division. Vegas will be back in action on Monday to take on the Edmonton Oilers on home ice.