The Vegas Golden Knights returned home from their season-long six-game road trip to face the San Jose Sharks Monday night, coming away with a 2-1 victory. The win extended Vegas’ winning streak to three games.
The Golden Knights played quite well but once again were carried by Marc-Andre Fleury and Mark Stone. Stone scored his sixth game-winning goal of the season, and Fleury made some excellent saves down the stretch. His sliding poke-check save on Evander Kane in the third period was particularly memorable and clutch.
The Sharks put up a fight down the stretch, but Vegas held on to improve its season record against San Jose to 4-0-0.
The Sharks got off to a better start in the first, as Vegas showed some signs of coming off a long road trip. It was a slowly-moving game early on, and after an offensive zone turnover by the Knights, Fleury had to make a great stop on Timo Meier, who was able to walk in all alone.
The Golden Knights had a power-play opportunity after Kane tripped up Jonathan Marchessault around eight minutes into the game, and they capitalized early. Max Pacioretty beat Devan Dubnyk with a rifled wrist shot. Stone extended his personal point streak to eight games with the primary assist on the goal.
The Sharks had the momentum in a period in which the Golden Knights could have been better. The recent turnover problems for Vegas continued, and the Golden Knights struggled to grasp much momentum throughout the opening frame. The Sharks had seven high-danger chances to Vegas’ three at 5-on-5 in the first period, according to NaturalStatTrick.
But Fleury was able to hold off the Sharks’ momentum, and his efforts helped the Golden Knights head into the locker room with the one-goal lead.
The second period got off to a quick start, and Dubnyk was forced to come up with a key save early, robbing Alex Tuch after Tuch was in alone.
Both teams had great opportunities early on in the middle period, but the goaltenders stood tall. Dubnyk made an excellent pad save on Reilly Smith around the midpoint of the game. The shot had a 25.5% chance of scoring, according to MoneyPuck.
Logan Couture rang the crossbar a few moments later, after a couple of great saves by Fleury.
The Golden Knights played much better than they did in the first period, but again they had to rely on Fleury quite a bit. The Sharks continued to get scoring chances, but Vegas held the upper hand in the second and held on to the one-goal lead.
Almost as soon as the puck was dropped in the third period, Stone continued his red-hot streak. He scored his 10th goal of the season 62 seconds into the frame with a quick snapshot, giving Vegas some much-needed breathing room.
A few moments later, Fleury blanked Matt Nieto on a point-blank chance from in tight. But it was his poke-check save that truly stood out.
After a turnover by Shea Theodore, Fleury made an extraordinary diving poke check on Kane’s breakaway attempt, coming well out of the crease to challenge Kane.
poke checks > Facebook pokes pic.twitter.com/az5xqP6WRO— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 16, 2021
Seconds later, Kane was whistled for cross-checking, which sent Vegas to its third power play of the game.
During the power play, Marchessault was robbed by Dubnyk twice from point-blank range. The Golden Knights had a very good power play but were not able to capitalize.
But San Jose took advantage of the momentum and scored just 11 seconds after killing off the penalty.
Brent Burns made a crisp cross-ice pass to Meier, who deked around Fleury and was able to put one past him to end his shutout bid. The Golden Knights’ lead was cut back down to one with 5:31 left in regulation.
San Jose kept hold of the momentum.
Around a minute later, the Sharks hit the bar once more, this time by Tomas Hertl.
San Jose gained possession in the offensive end and pulled Dubnyk for the extra attacker. With 25.3 seconds remaining, Pacioretty made the task for Vegas even harder by getting called for interference, which set up the 6-on-4 opportunity for the Sharks.
The Golden Knights were able to escape after a scramble at the horn, coming away with the 2-1 win.
Vegas remains undefeated against the Sharks this season.
Though Fleury stole the show, Dubnyk was very strong throughout the game and finished the night with 34 saves and a .944 save percentage. He kept his team in the game, and the Sharks came very close to evening things up late in the third.
The Knights move to 19-6-1 on the year and 7-2-0 this month. The win helps Vegas increase its division lead back to four points.
The Golden Knights and Sharks play again Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.