Gameday: Golden Knights going for third win in a row against Sharks
It feels like it’s been ages since Vegas and San Jose got acquainted.
The Vegas Golden Knights have won consecutive games four separate times this season. A three-game winning streak hasn’t been achieved yet.
Thursday night could be that opportunity when the Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks, the first meeting between the teams since Vegas outscored San Jose 9-2 in the first two games of the regular season.
The Golden Knights are coming off a 4-2 victory Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some save may have happened in that game, we’re not entirely sure. That win, along with Vegas’ 6-0 shutout win against the Calgary Flames on Sunday, have been good rebound victories after losing five in a row, but they’re not wins you can hang your hat on.
Tonight is the first real test to see if the Golden Knights are, indeed, back. While the Sharks also struggled out of the gate losing four of their first 15 (4-10-1), they bounced back to win six in a row before losing 5-2 to the division-leading Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. It’s also going to be the first time Vegas and San Jose face off with fully-intact rosters. Evander Kane was not in the lineup for the first two games; you’ll recall his suspension from the preseason finale in T-Mobile Arena that forced him to miss the first two games.
There’s your friendly reminder that these teams played three times in a row.
Fleury keeps it going
After allowing nine goals in two games, Marc-Andre Fleury has bounced back greatly by allowing two goals in these past two games. That includes the 34-save shutout on Sunday, his second of the season.
Fleury has been nearly unstoppable in the regular season against San Jose since joining Vegas. He’s 5-1-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average in six regular season starts as a Golden Knights goaltender against the Sharks.
A win would give Fleury a league-leading 12th victory. He’s been in the zone since Vegas came back home for this four-game homestand, and he’s been up to the task against division opponents to this point (6-0-0, 1.33 GAA, .955 save percentage in starts).
“The save” may be the shot in the arm Vegas needed. Only time will tell. But Fleury is playing really well as of late. That alone should be a spark.
The surging ... second line?
Amidst this shuffling of lines, the Golden Knights may have woken up their makeshift second line in the past two games.
Jonathan Marchessault is on a six-game point streak and has points in 10 of his past 11 games. Mark Stone has goals in back-to-back games after going pointless in his previous six. What might be more astounding is Cody Eakin appears to be back on track with goals in back-to-back games.
Whether or not this translates to 5-on-5, we’ll find out. Stone scored both of his goals on the power play, while Eakin has a tap-in and an empty-netter to his count by this point. All it takes is one, though. And if Stone can get back to where he was about 10 games ago, that line could open up the floodgates.
Meanwhile, Marchessault’s point streak is probably the quietest in NHL history. For someone who had a really quiet start to the season, the Golden Knights have benefitted from having him on the scoreboard.
Will Martin Jones last?
It’s almost become a game within the game: Can the Golden Knights chase the Sharks’ starting goaltender once again?
Jones has been pulled three times in nine regular season starts against Vegas; one of them coming in the second game of the season. Whatever the case, Jones has not been great in Las Vegas (1-2-0, 3.62 GAA in four appearances).
Should the Golden Knights win their third in a row, it’s going to come down to goaltending (as it always does with these two). If Fleury outplays Jones, Vegas should win. It is law and it has been so since Year 1.
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault -- Cody Eakin -- Mark Stone
Alex Tuch -- Paul Stastny -- Cody Glass
William Carrier -- Tomas Nosek -- Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt
Nicolas Hague -- Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill -- Deryk Engelland
Sharks projected lineup
Evander Kane -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier -- Tomas Hertl -- Barclay Goodrow
Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Patrick Marleau
Lukas Radil -- Dylan Gambrell -- Melker Karlsson
Radim Simek -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Erik Karlsson
Brenden Dillon -- Mario Ferraro
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM