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Golden Knights vs. Sharks Preview: Vegas looks for eighth-straight victory

The Knights can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a point.

San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights
Martin Jones and Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks defend the net against Max Pacioretty of the Vegas Golden Knights in NHL West division action
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights have won six games against the San Jose Sharks this season, including a 3-2 shootout victory on Monday. The Golden Knights are also currently on a seven-game winning streak, looking for their eighth straight on Wednesday.

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau set the record for most NHL games played on Monday and will again tonight and every game he plays from here on out. He’ll play his 900th consecutive game on Wednesday. The Golden Knights will face Marleau at least one more time after this game, as Vegas is scheduled to face San Jose again on May 10.

The Golden Knights have had some problems at 5-on-5 against the Sharks. Monday’s game was the fourth time this season the Sharks have generated more expected goals than the Golden Knights at full strength. Vegas has produced more high-danger chances at 5-on-5 just once this season against San Jose (while San Jose has done so three times and the two sides have tied twice).

But Vegas’ .928 save percentage against San Jose — second best in the division after the Arizona Coyotes — is a large reason why the Golden Knights have yet to lose. While Robin Lehner didn’t look terrific on Monday — allowing two goals against with an average goal distance of 49.5 feet— he did make 29 saves on 31 shots.

All of Vegas’ scoring came from three players on Monday, as Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Shea Theodore scored two points each. Stone is now on a five-game point streak and in all five games he’s scored multiple points. The Golden Knights are led by Stone and Pacioretty’s nine points each, and Theodore has six in six games against San Jose. Alex Tuch, who scored the game-winning shootout goal on Monday, has three goals against the Sharks this season.

San Jose is led by Evander Kane’s four points this season. Three more Sharks — Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl — have three points. Kane has 36 points this season, the most among Sharks in 2021 and Hertl has 28, the second-most on the team.

In Monday’s contest, both of San Jose’s goals came at 5-on-5. The Sharks have scored 10 of their 12 goals against the Golden Knights at 5-on-5 this season, the others coming on the power play, as the Sharks have scored twice in 23:03 of power-play time. The Golden Knights’ penalty kill has allowed 14 shots against and 2.36 expected goals against in those 23 minutes.

Vegas’ power play has scored eight times in 36:43 against San Jose’s 13th-ranked penalty kill. The Golden Knights’ man advantage added two on Monday, paving the way for the victory. The Golden Knights have added 14 more goals at 5-on-5, outscoring the Sharks, and capitalizing more on their generated expected goals than the Sharks.

Without Reilly Smith — who has two goals against the Sharks this season — in the lineup on Monday, the Golden Knights went with Dylan Coghlan as the 18th skater and a combination of Mattias Janmark and Alex Tuch on the line with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault.

The duo with Janmark had a 63.27 expected goal share and the duo with Tuch had a 77.88 xGF%. Returning to either combination would be good for the lineup, but Janmark with William Carrier and Nicolas Roy had an 86.72 xGF%, so that could make more sense.

Tomas Jurco was returned to AHL Henderson on Tuesday as Dylan Sikura was recalled in his place. Sikura has 19 points with the Silver Knights this season and was acquired in the preseason in exchange for Brandon Pirri. Sikura has 11 goals this season and has 14 points in 47 career NHL games.

Vegas could go with either Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury in net on Wednesday. Fleury has a .943 save percentage in four games against the Sharks this season, last seeing San Jose on March 17. Lehner faced San Jose for the first time this season on Monday. Oscar Dansk played the other game against San Jose this season.


How to watch

Time: 6:30 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBC Sports Network

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM