The Vegas Golden Knights (15-4-1) and San Jose Sharks (8-10-3) will square off once again tonight in the second half of the back-to-back set. Vegas won the first meeting in overtime by a final score of 5-4.
In a surprise move, Oscar Dansk got the nod last night for his first start since 2019, thus snapping Marc-Andre Fleury’s starting streak. However, expect Fleury to be back in the crease for tonight’s contest.
Though the Knights came out on top, it was not a great performance and not at all a 60-minute effort.
Even so, the Knights were 67 seconds away from securing the win when a late gaffe by Dansk allowed the Sharks to even things up at 4-4.
Fittingly, it was No. 67 who rectified the situation by scoring 1:25 into overtime. That extended Vegas’ winning streak to five games.
Despite the cringe-worthy play by Dansk, which was as unlucky as it was unfortunate, the Knights rallied around the Swedish netminder. In a timeout shortly after the goal, many Vegas teammates made a point to go up to Dansk to show support and help him shake it off. They followed that up by helping him get the win.
But San Jose had come close to tying the game a few minutes earlier anyway. Patrick Marleau was left alone in front of the net on a Sharks power play, and Dansk came up with a huge stop with just over three minutes left in regulation.
Even though it was not Vegas’ best effort, it’s always encouraging to see teammates rally around each other.
Plus, the fact that the Knights are now 4-0-0 in overtime (they lost in a shootout to St. Louis) is good for confidence and good for morale. That third point in games will be especially important this year as all play is intradivisional.
But the Knights need to clean things up considerably tonight, especially since the Sharks have every reason to be confident coming into the matchup given the fact that they did overcome multi-goal deficits several times.
One area of focus for Vegas should be special teams.
While there is nothing wrong with Vegas’ actual penalty kill, the goal is to not need it. That was not the case last night, as Vegas took five penalties. San Jose went 1-for-5 on the power play, and the one power-play goal that was scored helped the Sharks get on the board and back into the game. William Carrier took a penalty late in the third period, which is when Marleau had that glorious scoring chance. Vegas can’t go down that road again; discipline is key.
Also, the power play had a rough night. The last time these teams met, Vegas scored all three of its goals on the man advantage, going 3-for-5 on the night. Last night, Vegas went 0-for-4. It didn’t end up being a major issue, especially since the Knights scored three goals on eight shots before Martin Jones was pulled, but games can be won or lost on momentum, and nothing shifts momentum more than special-teams play. It works both ways, and even if a power play is unsuccessful, generating chances and getting good looks can be almost as significant in the momentum battle.
The Knights blew several leads last night having nothing to do with San Jose’s fourth goal, and the third one was questionable given the interference on the play. Had the Knights played a very sound game and lost because of Dansk’s misplay of the puck, that would have been one thing. But while the Sharks still did steal a point given the nature of their fourth goal and the timing of it, Vegas has to be much better and cannot take its foot off the gas. The Knights seemed to be playing not to lose, especially in the third period, and that’s not a recipe for success.
One other thing to keep an eye on is the lineup, as there could be some personnel changes for tonight’s game.
For one thing, Fleury is expected to start. But Ryan Reaves was injured in the third period last night, and while Pete DeBoer said it is not a serious injury, his status remains up in the air. Tomas Nosek could draw back into the lineup if Reaves is unable to go. Also, it’s possible Dylan Coghlan could come in for Nick Holden.
How to watch
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM