Preview: Golden Knights look to continue surge as they take on Sharks
The Golden Knights are 19-2-4 all-time against San Jose.
The Vegas Golden Knights are back in action tonight as they host the San Jose Sharks in the second installment of a three-game homestand. Vegas is coming off a 7-2 victory against Anaheim and has won three in a row since returning from the All-Star break.
The Golden Knights are winning by committee.
Vegas has outscored opponents 17-4 over the last three games and has seen 11 different players light the lamp.
Not insignificantly, the Golden Knights have scored first in two straight games after doing so twice in all of January. They will look to get on the board early tonight against a familiar foe.
Both the Golden Knights and Sharks have gone 4-4-2 over the last 10 games, though Vegas sits in first place in the Pacific Division with 68 points while the Sharks are in seventh with 45.
Rumors continue to swirl around the likes of Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson, both of whom are expected to be moved by the deadline. Since the departure of Brent Burns, Karlsson has returned to form and is having a monster, Norris-worthy season with 18 goals and 73 points. The next-highest point total among NHL defensemen is 58 (Rasmus Dahlin).
Meier is second on the Sharks in scoring with 52 points (31 goals), with Tomas Hertl (15-32—47), Logan Couture (19-25—44) and Alexander Barabanov (9-26—35) rounding out the top-5.
Karlsson and Meier also lead the team in power-play points (19 and 18, respectively) and game-winning goals (four each), though Meier has more than three times as many power-play markers as anyone else on the team (13).
The club is operating at just under 20 percent (19.9 percent) on the power play, good for 22nd overall.
Vegas has gone 5-for-6 on the penalty kill during its three-game winning streak and remains in the middle of the league rankings with a 79.4 percent conversion rate, good for 17th overall.
Despite San Jose’s 17-27-11 record, the Sharks rank fourth in the NHL on the penalty kill with an 83.1 percent success rate. San Jose will do its best to hold Vegas’ 13th-ranked power play (22.5 percent) without a goal for the seventh game in a row.
But Vegas has been able to get the job done at 5-on-5, and the Golden Knights will face one of the worst overall defenses in the league. San Jose ranks 29th in goals against with an average of 3.67 per game (the Sharks have scored 3.02 per game compared to Vegas’ 3.22). Vegas has allowed 0.87 fewer goals per game with a season average of 2.80, good for 10th in the league.
Having a healthy blue line has done wonders for the Golden Knights. Shot suppression has been surgical, and the Golden Knights are capitalizing on chances and limiting mistakes. That has made life easier for Adin Hill, who will get his second straight start tonight as Vegas’ starting netminder with the injury to Logan Thompson. He will face Kaapo Kahkonen, who is 8-10-4 with a 3.69 goals-against average and .880 save percentage.
In just under seven periods of hockey this month, Hill has stopped 43 of 46 shots for a .935 save percentage. He has an all-time record of 5-2-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .926 save percentage against his former club; he defeated the Sharks earlier this season, stopping 29 of 31 shots for a .935 save percentage.
The Golden Knights fell short in the other meeting, a 4-2 decision in late October. However, the Golden Knights are 19-2-4 all-time against their Pacific Division rival and went 2-0-1 last year.
The teams will wrap up the 2022-23 season series March 30 in California.
Paul Cotter — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Michael Amadio
William Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Phil Kessel
Brett Howden — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Nick Bonino
Michael Eyssimont — Logan Couture — Alexander Barabanov
Oskar Lindblom — Nico Sturm — Noah Gregor
Evgeny Svechnikov — Steven Lorentz — Kevin Labanc
Scott Harrington — Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Matt Benning
Mario Ferraro — Jacob MacDonald