The Vegas Golden Knights ended their regular season on a high note, beating the San Jose Sharks 6-0 at SAP Center in San Jose on Wednesday night. The Golden Knights clinched their 40th victory of the year with one of their best efforts of the 2021 season.
The Golden Knights’ fate is now in the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in terms of winning the West Division. The Colorado Avalanche beat the Kings on Wednesday night by the same score of 6-0, but with a Kings’ victory in any fashion on Thursday, the Golden Knights can win both the West and the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Golden Knights scored two goals in each period on Wednesday, starting with Alex Pietrangelo’s third straight goal for the team:
Just under four minutes later, Keegan Kolesar followed that goal for his third of the season:
William Carrier continued the scoring in the second period, picking up his sixth goal of the season.
Again, just under four minutes later, Jonathan Marchessault scored his 18th of the year.
Finally, newcomer Dylan Sikura, playing in his sixth game with the Golden Knights, scored twice in the third period but failed to pick up a hat trick. His two goals double his previous total of one career NHL goal.
The Golden Knights were clearly the better team throughout the entirety of this game. Not only did Vegas not take a penalty until 13:55 of the third period, they outshot the Sharks 37-17 at 5-on-5 and 44-19 across all strengths.
In his shutout, Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves and faced just 1.88 expected goals against across all strengths. Fleury was seven for seven from high danger. Fleury, for the first time in his career, picked up the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals against in a season in his tandem with Robin Lehner.
The Golden Knights were also able to bounce back to 17 skaters after playing with 15 against the Avalanche on Monday, as Sikura and Dylan Coghlan joined the lineup. While Sikura scored two goals, Coghlan picked up a primary assist and played 18:25.
Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Carrier also picked up multiple points, each finishing the game with two. Pietrangelo led the team in shots with seven in the game, and Nicolas Hague was the only player with more than 20 minutes played, finishing the game with 22:39. The Golden Knights did a great job of minutes distribution in this game, as everyone finished with 13 minutes or better (Carrier had the lowest ice time with 13:46).
The Golden Knights’ penalty kill allowed just one shot against in two minutes of shorthanded action. The power play generated seven shots and 1.15 expected goals in eight minutes but failed again to score. Vegas’ man advantage needs to be better heading into the playoffs, as they’re riding a two-game scoreless streak and have one goal in their last four games.
With 11 forwards in this game, the Golden Knights’ lines were put through a blender in much of the contest. But their most consistent lines were, for the most part, solid. Only the William Karlsson line finished with an expected goal share below 55 percent (31.49 percent on the night).
Alex Tuch did not play a second in the third period, though Pete DeBoer confirmed after the game that it was done for maintenance purposes after Tuch suffered a minor tweak. Despite it being an already-sealed game, every other player in the Golden Knights lineup (including Mark Stone) played in the third period.
With an already-injured roster — there’s no firm return date yet on Max Pacioretty, Alec Martinez, Tomas Nosek or Ryan Reaves — missing Tuch, especially in a potential matchup with Tuch’s former team, the Minnesota Wild, would be a massive blow. DeBoer said the tweak wasn’t supposed to be serious, though.
Vegas now waits for tomorrow’s game between the Avalanche and Kings (6 p.m.) to see who its first-round opponent will be. If the Avs lose, Vegas will see St. Louis at home. If the Avs win again, the Golden Knights will host... the Wild.
Let’s Go Kings.