The Sharks (11-8-2) secured a single, solitary point out of their trip to visit the Vegas Golden Knights (14-6-1) tonight, after coming back from a 4-1 goal deficit. With this 14th win, the Knights now have as many wins as the expansion Atlanta Thrashers had in their entire first season. Some positives did come out of this contest, however, as Brent Burns scored his first of the season in his 900th career game, and Joe Thornton tied Joe Sakic on the NHL’s all time assists list.
The Sharks limped out of the gate in this one, after a few good chances in the first minute from Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker, they settled into nap time for a while.
It didn’t take long for the Knights to capitalize on the Sharks’ lethargy, as Shea Theodore scored his first of the season at 2:33 to make it 1-0 for Vegas. Cody Eakin deserves a lot of credit for stickhandling Joe Pavelski into submission and tossing the puck behind a bewildered Thornton to an aggressively pinching Theodore. The defenseman fired a wrist shot short side past an unprepared Martin Jones to put the Knights on the board.
If you were hoping the Vegas goal would wake the Sharks from their afternoon slumber, you were likely disappointed. With Justin Braun in the penalty box on a hooking call, the Sharks’ league-best penalty kill looked like anything but. Both Sharks named Dillon (also Dylan) were caught scrambling as James Neal and Erik Haula barraged Jones. Neal finally ended our misery with a laser into the short side corner at 11:16. If the Sharks are showcasing DeMelo off for a trade, he’s not helping.
Joonas Donskoi gave us a bit of hope as the period wound down. After getting shoved to his knees by goaltender Maxime Lagace, Donskoi dropped the puck to his stick and slid a slick no look backhand to a cutting Tomas Hertl, who potted it into an empty net to half the Knights’ lead at 17:08.
The Sharks made an ugly first period look respectable near the end. The boys in blue were outshot 9-7, but recorded six of the frame’s last seven shots, and out attempted Vegas 17-13.
It got worse before it got better. The Vegas power play converted again just ten seconds into the second period as William Karlsson made a fool out of Braun entering the zone. Karlsson eventually made his way back around to the slot, where he converted a rebound off of a shot from Alex Tuch. Credit is also due to Reilly Smith for a great cross ice pass to Tuch for the initial chance. The Sharks were down 3-1 and Jones’ night was over.
Timo Meier appeared to temporarily lose his mind, and leveled a crossing David Perron. An undisciplined, reckless, and dangerous play from Meier that may have been retaliation for a very early hit from Perron, which probably makes it worse. Perron, who has a history of concussion problems, did not return to the game.
Karlsson continued his reign of terror over the NHL at 6:55. Karlsson tipped home a Jonathan Marchessault point shot to make it 4-1 Knights. Marchessault was all over the place on this play, really reinforcing the idea that the Florida Panthers made some expansion draft related errors. Karlsson recorded his eighth goal in six games with this one, and tied Neal for the team goals lead at 12.
Burns finally decided he would not go quietly into the night at 8:08 right off of an offensive zone face off win. Everything about this goal was welcome. Burns scored his first goal of the season in game 21 on shot 86, the Sharks scored off of a face off after winning only 18 of 45 so far this game, and Thornton finally tied Joe Sakic for 12th in all time assists with 1016. 4-2 Knights.
With Smith in the sin city sin bin for hooking, the Sharks’ new look power play looked remarkably not terrible, but the efforts of emergency goaltender Deryk Engelland kept them off the board.
Chris Tierney made it official with a bank shot off of a Braun point pass at 15:34. Joel Ward straight out worked Eakin down low to get the puck to Tierney in the corner, who tossed it up high to Braun, drawing the attention of every Knight in attendance. The cobra, unmolested, closed to the net and bounced the puck into the empty cage to bring the Sharks to within one.
The Sharks power play was rewarded for its effort shortly thereafter. Much maligned Dane Mikkel Boedker picked up a rebound from a Pavelski shot, and launched it through a gaping five-hole of Lagace to tie the game at four with Eakin in the box for interference. The period closed as we all expected, tied at four after three straight Sharks goals, with both teams sitting at 22 shots on goal.
The third period started with not one but two goaltenders who hadn’t started the game, as the Knights skated Malcolm Subban out to start the frame.
Logan Couture certainly appeared to give the Sharks their first lead of the night. Couture won a battle on the boards, got the puck out to Hertl who bounced it right along to Burns. Couture found some space to Subban’s right and pounded the puck home at 2:40. Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant challenged the goal, however, and, for the fifth consecutive time, a coach’s challenge went against the Sharks and the game remained tied. Heavy sigh.
A series of missed calls on trips and a penalty to Hertl for being interfered with by Marchessault escorted the Sharks and Knights through to the end of the night’s first scoreless period, and into extra time. Dell came up with some big stops as the Sharks’ short handed period wound down. Vegas took the lead in shots, 31-26.
The overtime period didn’t last long, as Marchessault bounced the puck off of Thornton’s skate past Aaron Dell, capitalizing on a stick-less Brent Burns in the Sharks’ zone. Make that six consecutive goal review calls against the San Jose Sharks. This one was probably correct, though. Rats.
- For the record, I think the first three of the aforementioned five challenges were correct calls, but both the Bruins’ goal on Saturday and especially this Donskoi call were pretty bad. Donskoi’s skate shared maybe one electron with Subban’s, and there was plenty of time for him to get back into position. Kerry Fraser I ain’t, but it seemed pretty clearly goal-worthy to me. Between that, a few obviously missed trips, and the reverse interference call on Marchessault, the third period of this game was embarrassing from an officiating perspective.
- The Sharks’ freshly blendered power play only converted once, but they looked more dangerous, or maybe less miserable, than we’re used to seeing.
- The Sharks showed a lot of resilience coming back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game at four. After tonight’s first period, one wonders if Vegas’ home ice advantage has something to do with the extracurricular activities the city offers...
- With this win, the Knights have tied an NHL record for longest home winning streak for an expansion team, matching the 1917-18 Toronto Arenas.