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Golden Knights 3, Sharks 1: Dominant special teams play leads Vegas to victory in DeBoer’s return

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The Golden Knights scored three power-play goals.

Vegas Golden Knights v San Jose Sharks
Mark Stone and Cody Glass of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after Stone’s goal against the San Jose Sharks
Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

In a near-perfect game for the Vegas Golden Knights’ special teams, Vegas defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in the first night of a back-to-back set.

The Golden Knights’ power play was 3-for-5 on the day, and the penalty kill was 3-for-3. Vegas saw goals from Jonathan Marchessault, Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson. Stephenson and Alec Martinez both had multi-point games.

Marc-Andre Fleury got his third straight start and is now 6-1-0 on the year. Pete DeBoer picked up the win in his return to San Jose.

Vegas opened the score on the power play as Marchessault found the back of the net:

His rebound goal was his fourth of the season and second in three games.

Stone would increase that lead, also on a rebound and also on the power play:

San Jose came back later in the second period as Tomas Hertl cut into the lead on a two-on-one opportunity.

The Golden Knights would make it 3-for-3 on the power play as Stephenson’s skate scored to make it 3-1:

Stephenson has four goals in the last four games.

Vegas’ three power-play goals in this contest mark the first multiple power-play goal game of the season for the Golden Knights. They had eight last season, and the struggling man advantage needed a game like this.

The penalty kill was perfect, allowing just two shots and zero high-danger chances against.

Still, the team can play much better at 5-on-5.

Vegas was outshot 21-16 and lost the expected goals battle 1.52 to 1.44 at full strength. The only goal scored at 5-on-5 was Hertl’s. If it weren’t for the great night by the special teams, Vegas could have seen a repeat performance of Thursday’s loss against Anaheim.

Part of that is the defense.

Eight high-danger chances against at 5-on-5 is tied for the second-most the Golden Knights have given up in a game this season. If Vegas is going to get better, it has to start with the top guys, and that means Alex Pietrangelo.

Pietrangelo is just getting beaten defensively so far this season. He hasn’t lived up to being the Golden Knights’ best defenseman (like he’s paid to be), and the goal against partly came because of his bad defending:

Pietrangelo finished the game with a 40 percent shot share and a 40.12 percent expected goal share. This is against the Sharks. There are going to be games where three power-play goals happen, and that can cover up other issues. But that won’t fly against teams like the St. Louis Blues or Colorado Avalanche. Pietrangelo needs to be better.

Moving on to the positives, two of Vegas’ lines finished with a positive expected goal share. One of them was the first line with a 53.58 percent expected goal share. The other was the third line of Alex Tuch, Cody Glass and Keegan Kolesar. They finished with a team-high 60.55 percent expected goal share.

Kolesar also kept generating chances on net, he just couldn’t capitalize on them. If he continues to create chances the way he did in this game, that first NHL goal will come. After that, it could be floodgates. He continues to be one of few impressive players at 5-on-5 despite limited ice time and finished with an individual mark of 65.14 percent expected goal share, second-highest on the team after Tuch.

The Golden Knights’ power play had arguably its best game so far this season. Not only because of the three goals, but the way they did it. The Golden Knights had their highest high-danger chance count in a game so far this season with seven (all three goals were high-danger) and the third-most expected goals with 1.21.

This was a game in which the Golden Knights’ special teams saved their lackluster 5-on-5 play. It’s unknown how many times that can occur this season, but an educated guess would be not very many. The Knights have to improve at full strength if they want to be true contenders down the line.

But hey, the power play was finally good. If they keep getting those rebound chances, it could continue to produce.