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Sharks vs Golden Knights Preview: Back home against one of the league’s best

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It’s #1 vs. #2 in the Pacific Division, expect a good one.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks (28-17-8) are set to take on the Vegas Golden Knights (35-14-4) in a battle of two of the Pacific Division’s best. These teams have only met once this season, on Nov. 24, in Las Vegas and a Sharks rally attempt fell short as the Knights escaped 5-4 in overtime.

The Sharks return to the SAP Center after being on the road the last five games. The team notched a 2-3 record during the road trip, and are coming off an unacceptable 3-1 loss on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Golden Knights are in the midst of their own six-game road trip, which ends in San Jose. However, they are also coming off a tough 5-4 loss on Tuesday to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here are a few things to know for this game:

Can the Sharks keep up with Vegas’ offensive firepower?

The Sharks may be facing the most well-rounded team in the NHL. In the four main statistical categories — Goals per game, goals against, power play percentage and penalty kill percentage — the Knights rank in the top 10, while boasting an impressive 3.4 goals per game (second in NHL).

A good sign for the Sharks is that they’ve scored over three goals in six of their last 10 outings, including two in the last three. Also, according to ESPN, San Jose is a much better goal scoring team at home, seeing an increased goal per game average of 3.04, compared to their overall average of 2.8 goals.

Who do bounce back games favor?

In sports, bounce back games are typically described as wins coming off of any type of loss. This season the Sharks have collected eight bounce back wins, while the Knights have earned seven.

Half of the team’s bounce back wins came inside the SAP Center, which bodes well for tonight’s match up.

Martin Jones getting into superstar form

Goalie Martin Jones has made four appearances since returning on Jan. 30, after sitting out four games due to an undisclosed injury. Though Jones has a 1-3 record, in his last three performances he’s been the stifling goalie we’re accustomed to seeing, giving up a combined four goals. Also in those three games he as a whopping .956 save percentage.

Shaking off the rust is generally a factor when players return from injury, but if San Jose wishes to make a statement in their first big Western Conference game since All-Star break, then this would be the game to do so. And for the team to accomplish this task, it starts and ends with Joner in net.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Make sure to check out the gamethread for lines and an open game discussion.