The Sharks (11-8-1, 5th Pacific) will head to Vegas for the first time in regular season franchise history tonight to try to pour some water on the best story of the NHL's young season, and shut down the red hot Golden Knights (13-6-1, 1st Pacific). The Knights will be trying to tie an NHL record tonight, and become the second expansion team to ever win eight straight home games, joining the 1917-18 Toronto Arenas for that obscure honor.
San Jose is coming off of a much needed, but less than inspiring 3-1 win over the hapless Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, riding a 26 save performance from Martin Jones. With the oh-so-important measuring stick of Thanksgiving behind them, the Sharks sit perilously in a second Western wild card spot, holding a plus one wins tie breaker over the Chicago Blackhawks, and a plus one goal differential tie breaker over the Colorado Avalanche. They'll need to go on a run sooner or later if they want to ensure a post-season berth.
Vegas comes into the evening looking for a fifth straight win, after besting the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Led in scoring by David Perron (six goals, 13 assists), the Knights have no former Sharks to speak of, having traded away expansion prize David Schlemko to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2019 fifth round pick (let's stock up on defensemen, George said, "they'll sell for futures," he said, "everyone needs defensemen," he said.")
While Vegas' perch atop the Pacific division is a great story, and the success of an expansion franchise is great for a community that could use some picking up, there is evidence that some of this success is an illusion. The Knights rank third in the NHL in 5 on 5 team shooting percentage (9.83) and, commensurately, ninth in the league in PDO (1013). The Sharks are 30th (5.66) and 26th (978) in those categories, respectively. History suggests that these numbers will regress towards the mean at least in part at some point this season. It's entirely possible, though, that Vegas has banked enough points in their storybook run to weather such a statistical reckoning and sneak into the playoffs regardless.
Tonight marks the first night of a back to back for both teams, with the Sharks coming home to greet the Winnipeg Jets Saturday evening, and the Knights travelling to Glendale to see the aforementioned hapless Arizona Coyotes. Let's hope they don't leave too much in the tank and give us a good show, hey?
Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl
Daniel O'Regan -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker
Jannik Hansen -- Ryan Carpenter -- Joel Ward
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Kevin Labanc, Tim Heed
Injured: Paul Martin (ankle (probably?)), Barclay Goodrow (upper body), Melker Karlsson (upper body)
Jones is 5-2-1 in his last eight, with a save percentage of .929 and a goals against average of 1.80, a good stat line to have for the 31st ranked team in goals for (50) to match up against the sixth (72). Tim Heed will sit for a second game in a row, ramping up rumors that DeMelo is being showcased for a trade. Labanc will sit to make room for Hansen to draw back into the lineup.
David Perron -- Erik Haula -- James Neal
Jonathan Marchessault -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith
Brendan Leipsic -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch
William Carrier -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Oscar Lindberg
Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore -- Deryk Engelland
Colin Miller -- Brad Hunt
Scratched: Jon Merrill, Tomas Nosek
Injured: Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Oscar Dansk (lower body), Luca Sbisa (lower body)
Subban is well enough to back up fourth string goaltender Lagace, but head coach Gerard Gallant seems satisfied to ride the hot hand and hold Subban out until Arizona tomorrow. Lagace is making his 11th straight start, and has allowed two goals in each of his past three appearances. Perron is on fire, scoring 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his last eight games.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App