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Golden Knights at Sharks Preview: Battle between the best in the Pacific

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What happens in San Jose... may affect the playoffs?

Feb 8, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) turns to see the puck enter the net after a goal from Las Vegas Knights left wing James Neal (18) scores in the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Knights won 5-3. Andrew Villa-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks are coming off one hell of a win on Tuesday. The Sharks returned home to the SAP Center and did not disappoint the home crowd, beating the New Jersey Devils 6-2. The Sharks fifth straight win saw goals from Barclay Goodrow (beating his career high with seven on the season), Mikkel Boedker, Logan Couture, Eric Fehr, Jannik Hansen, and captain Joe Pavelski. They’ll look to keep the goals coming tonight when the Las Vegas Golden Knights roll into town.

The Sharks fourth line is continuing to impress. Eric Fehr netted his third goal in Teal early in the first period against the Devils. Jannik Hansen found the net late in the first, scoring his first goal of the season. That wasn’t all from the fourth line, as Barclay Goodrow joined his linemates with a goal in the second. The Sharks have suffered several injuries, so an effort like this from the fourth line is much needed.

The dominant Vegas Golden Knights have hit a bit of a rough patch as of late. The New Jersey Devils rolled into town and scored a whopping eight goals on the Knights. New Jersey took home an 8-3 victory. Then came the Minnesota Wild, who beat them 4-2.

Vegas began to get their groove back, beating the Calgary Flames 4-0 on Sunday. William Karlsson netted a hat-trick in front of their home crowd. The Vancouver Canucks lost 4-1 in Vegas on Tuesday. Goaltender Marc-André Fleury suffered an unknown injury against the Canucks after taking a shot to the mask, not returning to the game after the first intermission. He will not be traveling with the team to San Jose.

The Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks have an interesting history, all of which include five goals. The Sharks scored five goals on the Golden Knights in their two preseason meetings. When the team met for the first time this season, the Sharks were able to hold the Golden Knights 4-4 heading to overtime, where they eventually lost 5-4. It was another five-goal game last month when the two met, the Sharks fell 5-3. The Sharks and Golden Knights will meet again before the season closes out, on March 31 in Las Vegas.

With the two top teams in the Pacific duking it out tonight, here’s how this game can affect playoffs:

Not an exact clinching scenario, but a win from Vegas and a loss from the Kings would put Vegas as close to clinching as one could be without officially claiming the spot.

Netminder woes?

The Vegas Knights are without Marc-André Fleury, who has had a very successful season. Not much is known about his injury, but he has suffered from a few over the course of the year. The Golden Knights recalled goalie Oscar Dansk to make the trip to San Jose. It’s not looking good between the pipes for Vegas. Fleury taking a puck to the face, after all the concussions he’s suffered, is a bad sign. With the Dansk recall, it’ll be interesting to see who we see in net. Will Dansk, who played four games with the club before suffering an injury against the New York Islanders earlier in the season, start? Or will we see a more seasoned Malcolm Subban? Vegas really can’t catch a break when it comes to injured goalies, can they?

Can the Sharks hold off the notorious Vegas offense?

Though they recently hit a bit of a rough spot, the Vegas Golden Knights score a lot of goals. Jonathan Marchessault leads the team in points with 67 and has netted 23 goals. William Karlsson, who is coming off a hat trick, is next in line with 66 points and 39 goals. This team loves to get pucks to the net and with their current defensive woes, the Sharks have to focus in on their own defensive game.

Another five goals?

So the whole five goals thing is definitely just some weird coincidence I just noticed, but after Tuesday’s game against the Devils and the fact that Fleury is out indefinitely, I think we’ll see another five-goal game. The Sharks fourth line is providing offensive support in the absence of Joe Thornton and Joonas Donskoi, and I predict they will stay hot. Maybe high scoring games with Vegas can be our thing? That would be nice.

Bold prediction: The Sharks will shut out the offensively hot Golden Knights and also continue this five-goal ritual I’m obsessed with.

Check back later to see what tonight’s lines will look like in our gameday thread, and be sure to leave your bold predictions in the comments below!